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I he Yellow 


An Illustrated Qjianerly 

Volume II July 1894 

1 kin Mat hews &P John Lane 



I. The Gospel of Content . 
II. Poor Cousin Louis . 

III. The Composer of "Carmen 

IV. Thirty Bob a Week 
V. A Responsibility 

VI. A Song .... 
VII. Passed . 
VIII. Sat est Scripsisse 
IX. Three Stories . 
X. In a Gallery 
XI. The Yellow Book, ] 

criticised j 
XII. Dreams .... 

XIII. Madame Rejane 

XIV. The Roman Road . 
XV. Betrothed 

XVI. Thy Heart s Desire . 
XVII. Reticence in Literature 
XVIII. My Study 
XIX. A Letter to the Editor 
XX. An Epigram . 
XXI. The Coxon Fund 

By Frederick Greenwood Page II 
Ella D Arcy . . .34 

Charles Willeby . . 63 
John Davidson . . 99 
Henry Harland . .103 
Dollie Radford . .116 
Charlotte M. Mew . 121 

Austin Dobson . .142 
V., O., C.S. . . .144 
Katharine de Mattos . 177 
Philip Gilbert Hamerton, 

LL.D. . . -179 
Ronald Campbell Macfie 195 
Dauphin Meunier . . 197 
Kenneth Grahame . .211 
Norman Gale . . 227 

Netta Syrett . . . 228 
Hubert Crackanthorpe . 259 
Alfred Hayes . . -275 
Max Beerbohm . .281 
William Watson . . 289 
Henry James . . . 290 


The Yellow Book Vol. II. July, 1 894 


The Renaissance of Venus 
The Lamplighter 

The Comedy-Ballet of 

Gardens de Cafe 
The Slippers of 
Cinderella . 
VIII. Portrait of Madame 


IX. A Landscape . 
X. Portrait of Himself; 
XI. A Lady . 
XII. A Gentleman . 

XIII. Portrait of Henry James 

XIV. A Girl Resting 

XV. The Old Bedford Music 

Hall . 
XVI. Portrait of Aubrey 


XVII. Ada Lundberg 
XVIII. An Idyll 
XIX. The OldiMan s Garden 
XX. The Quick and. the 

Dead . . . 

XXI. A Reminiscence of ^ 

" The Transgressor "/ 

XXII. A Study .... 

XXIII. For the Backs of Playing^ 

Cards . . / 

By Walter Crane . . Page J 
A. S. Hartrick 60 

Aubrey Beardsley . -85 

Alfred Thornton . .117 

P. Wilson Steer . .171 

John S. Sargent, A.R.A. . 191 

Sydney Adamson . . 207 

Walter Sickert . . 220 

W. Brown Mac Dougal . 256 
E. J. Sullivan . . . 270 

Francis Forster 
Bernhard Sickert 
By Aymer Vallance 

. 278 
. 285 

The Yellow Book 

Volume II July, 1894 

The Editor of THE YELLOW BOOK can in no case 
hold himself responsible for rejected manuscripts ; 
when, however, they are accompanied by stamped 
addressed envelopes, every effort will be made to 
secure their prompt return. 

The Yellow Book 

An Illustrated Quarterly 
Volume II July, 1894 

London : Elkin Mathews s? John Lane 

Boston : Copeland s? Day 

Agents for the Colonies : Robt. A. Thompson &? Co. 

The Renaissance of Venus 

By Walter Crane 

By kind permission of G. F. Watts, Esq., R.A. 

The Gospel of Content 

By Frederick Greenwood 

How it was that I, being so young a man and not a very tactful 
one, was sent on such an errand is more than I should be 
able to explain. But many years ago some one came to me with 
a request that I should go that evening to a certain street at King s 
Cross, where would be found a poor lady in great distress; that I 
should take a small sum of money which was given to me for the 
purpose in a little packet which disguised all appearance of coin, 
present it to her as a " parcel " which I had been desired to deliver, 
and ask if there were any particular service that could be done for 
her. For my own information I was told that she was a beautiful 
Russian whose husband had barely contrived to get her out of the 
country, with her child, before his own arrest for some deep 
political offence of which she was more than cognisant, and that 
now she was living in desperate ignorance of his fate. Moreover, 
she was penniless and companionless, though not quite without 
friends ; for some there were who knew of her husband and had a 
little help for her, though they were almost as poor as herself. 
But none of these dare approach her, so fearful was she of the 
danger of their doing so, either to themselves or her husband or 


12 The Gospel of Content 

her child, and so ignorant of the perfect freedom that political 
exiles could count upon in England. "Then," said I," what ex 
pectation is there that she will admit me, an absolute stranger to 
her, who may be employed by the police for anything she knows 
to the contrary ? " The answer was : " Of course that has been 
thought of. But you have only to send up your name, which, in 
the certainty that you would have no objection, has been com 
municated to her already. Her own name, in England, is Madame 

It was a Saturday evening in November, the air thick with 
darkness and a drizzling rain, the streets black and shining where 
lamplight fell upon the mud on the paths and the pools in the 
roadway, when I found my way to King s Cross on this small 
errand of kindness. King s Cross is a most unlovely purlieu at its 
best, which must be in the first dawn of a summer day, when the 
innocence of morning smiles along its squalid streets, and the 
people of the place, who cannot be so wretched as they look, are 
shut within their poor and furtive homes. On a foul November 
night nothing can be more miserable, more melancholy. One or 
two great thoroughfares were crowded with foot-passengers who 
bustled here and there about their Saturday marketings, under the 
light that flared from the shops and the stalls that lined the road 
way. Spreading on every hand from these thoroughfares, with 
their noisy trafficking so dreadfully eager and small, was a maze 
of streets built to be " respectable " but now run down into the 
forlorn poverty which is all for concealment without any rational 
hope of success. It was to one of these that I was directed a 
narrow silent little street of three-storey houses, with two families 
at least in every one of them. 

Arrived at No. 17, I was admitted by a child after long delay, 
and by her conducted to a room at the top of the house. No 


By Frederick Greenwood i 3 

voice responded to the knock at the room door, and none to 
the announcement of the visitor s name ; but before I entered I 
was aware of a sound which, though it was only what may be 
heard in the grill-room of any coffee-house at luncheon time, made 
me feel very guilty and ashamed. For the last ten minutes I had 
been gradually sinking under the fear of intrusion of intrusion 
upon grief, and not less upon the wretched little secrets of poverty 
which pride is so fain to conceal ; and now these splutterings of a 
frying-pan foundered me quite. What worse intrusion could 
there be than to come prying in upon the cooking of some poor 
little meal ? 

Too much embarrassed to make the right apology (which, to 
be right, would have been without any embarrassment at all) I 
entered the room, in which everything could be seen in one 
straightforward glance : the little square table in the centre, with 
its old green cover and the squat lamp on it, the two chairs, the 
dingy half carpet, the bed wherein a child lay asleep in a lovely 
flush of colour, and the pale woman with a still face, and with the 
eyes that are said to resemble agates, standing before the hearth. 
Under the dark cloud of her hair she looked the very picture of 
Suffering Suffering too proud to complain and too tired to speak. 
Beautiful as the lines of her face were, it was white as ashes and 
spoke their meaning ; but nothing had yet tamed the upspringing 
nobility of her tall, slight, and yet imperious form. 

Receiving me with the very least appearance of curiosity or any 
other kind of interest, but yet with something of proud constraint 
(which I attributed too much, perhaps, to the untimely frying- 
pan), she waved her hand toward the farther chair of the two, and 
asked to be excused from giving me her attention for a moment. 
By that she evidently meant that otherwise her supper would be 
spoiled. It is not everything that can be left to cook unattended ; 


14 The Gospel of Content 

and since this poor little supper was a piece of fish scarce bigger 
than her hand, it was all the more likely to spoil and the less 
could be spared in damage. So I quietly took my seat in a position 
which more naturally commanded the view out of window than or 
the cooking operations, and waited to be again addressed. 

On the mantel-board a noisy little American clock ticked as ir 
its mission was to hurry time rather than to measure it, the frying- 
pan fizzed and bubbled without any abatement of its usual habit 
or any sense of compunction, now and then the child tossed upon 
the bed from one pretty attitude to another ; and that was all that 
could be heard, for Madame Vernet s movements were as silent as 
the movements of a shadow. In almost any part of that small 
room she could be seen without direct looking; but at a moment 
when she seemed struck into a yet deeper silence, and because of 
it, I ventured to turn upon her more than half an eye. Standing 
rigidly still, she was staring at the door in an intensity of listening 
that transfigured her. But the door was closed, and I with the 
best of hearing directed to the same place could detect no new 
sound : indeed, I dare swear that there was none. It was merely 
accidental that just at this moment the child, with another toss of 
the lovely black head, opened her eyes wide ; but it deepened the 
impressiveness of the scene when her mother, seeing the little one 
awake, placed a finger on her own lips as she advanced nearer to 
the door. The gesture was for silence, and it was obeyed as if in 
understood fear. But still there was nothing to be heard without, 
unless it were a push of soft drizzle against the window-panes. 
And this Madame Vernet herself seemed to think when, after a 
little while, she turned back to the fire her eyes mere agates 
again which had been all ablaze. 

Stooping to the fender, she had now got her fish into one warm 
plate, and had covered it with another, and had placed it on the 


By Frederick Greenwood 15 

broad old-fashioned hob of the grate to keep hot (as I surmised) 

while she spoke with and got rid of me, when knocking was heard 

at the outer door, a pair or hasty feet came bounding up the 

stair, careless of noise, and in flashed a splendid radiant creature 

of a man in a thin summer coat, and literally drenched to the skin. 

It was Monsieur Vernet, whose real name ended in " ieff." 

By daring ingenuity, by a long chain of connivance yet more 

hazardous, by courage, effrontery, and one or two miraculous 

strokes of good fortune, he had escaped from the fortress to which 

he had been conveyed in secret and without the least spark of 

hope that he would ever be released. For many months no one 

but himself and his jailers knew whether he was alive or dead : his 

friends inclined to think him the one thing or the other according 

to the brightness or the gloominess or the hour. Smuggled into 

Germany, and running thence into Belgium, he had landed in 

England the night before ; and walking the whole distance to 

London, with an interval of rour hours sleep in a cartshed, he 

contrived to bring home nearly all of the four shillings with 

which he started. 

But these particulars, it will be understood, I did not learn 
till afterwards. For that evening my visit was at an end from 
the moment (the first of his appearance) when Vernet seized his 
wife in his arms with a partial resemblance to murder. Un 
observed, I placed my small packet on the table behind the lamp, 
and then slipped out ; but not without a last view of that affecting 
" domestic interior," which showed me those two people in a 
relaxed embrace while they made me a courteous salute in response 
to another which was all awkwardness, their little daughter stand 
ing up on the bed in her night-gown, patiently yet eagerly 
waiting to be noticed by her father. In all likelihood she had not 
to wait long. 


1 6 The Gospel of Content 

This was the beginning of my acquaintance with a man who 
had a greater number of positive ideas than any one else that ever 
I have known, with wonderful intrepidity and skill in expound 
ing or defending them. However fine the faculties of some 
other Russians whom I have encountered, they seemed to move 
in a heavily obstructive atmosphere ; Vernet appeared to be oppressed 
by none. His resolutions were as prompt as his thought ; what 
ever resourse he could command in any difficulty, whether the 
least or the greatest, presented itself to his mind instantly, with 
the occasion for it ; and every movement of his body had the same 
quickness and precision. His pride, his pride of aristocracy, could 
tower to extraordinary heights ; his sensibility to personal slights 
and indignities was so trenchant that I have seen him white and 
quivering with rage when he thought himself rudely jostled by a 
fellow-passenger in a crowded street. And yet any comrade in 
conspiracy was his familiar if he only brought daring enough 
into the common business ; and wife, child, fortune, the exchange 
of ease for the most desperate misery, all were put at stake for 
the sake of the People and at the call of their sorrows and 
oppressions. And of one sort of pride he had no sense whatever 
fine gentleman as he was, and used from his birth to every refine 
ment of service and luxury : no degree of poverty, nor any 
blameless shift for relieving it, touched him as humiliating. Priva 
tion, whether for others or himself, angered him ; the contrast 
between slothful wealth and toiling misery enraged him ; but he 
had no conception of want and its wretched little expedients as 

For example. It was in November, that dreary and inclement 
month, when he began life anew in England with a capital or 
three shillings and sevenpence. It was a bleak afternoon in 
December, sleet lightly falling as the dusk came on and melting 


By Frederick Greenwood 17 

as it fell, when I found him gathering into a little basket what 
looked in the half-darkness like monstrous large snails. With as 
much indifference as if he were offering me a new kind of 
cigarette, Vernet put one of these things into my hand, and I 
saw that it was a beautifully-made miniature sailor s hat. The 
strands of which it was built were just like twisted brown straw 
to the eye, though they were of the smallness of packthread ; and 
a neat band of ribbon proportionately slender made all complete. 
But what were they for ? How were they made ? The answer 
was that the design was to sell them, and that they were made of the 
cords more artistically twisted and more neatly waxed than usual 
that shoemakers use in sewing. As for the bands, Madame 
Vernet had amongst her treasures a cap which her little daughter 
had worn in her babyhood ; and this cap had close frills of lace, 
and the frills were inter-studded with tiny loops of ribbon a 
fashion of that time. There were dozens of these tiny loops, and 
every one of them made a band for Vernet s little toy hats. 
Perhaps in tenderness for the mother s feelings, he would not let her 
turn the ribbons to their new use, but had applied them himself; 
and having spent the whole of a foodless day in the manufacture 
of these little articles, he was now about to go and sell them. He 
had selected his " pitch " in a flaring bustling street a mile away ; 
and he asked me (" I must lose no time," he said) to accompany 
him in that direction. I did so, with a cold and heavy stone in 
my breast which I am sure had no counterpart in his own. As he 
marched on, in his light and firm soldierly way, he was loud in praise 
of English liberty : at such a moment that was his theme. Arrived 
near his " pitch," he bade me good-night with no abatement of 
the high and easy air that was natural to him ; and though I 
instantly turned back of course, I knew that at a few paces farther 
the violently proud man moved off the pathway into the gutter, 


1 8 The Gospel of Content 

and stood there till eleven o clock ; for not before then did he sell 
the last of his little penny hats. Another man, equally proud, 
might have done the same thing in Vernet s situation, but not 
with Vernet s absolute indifference to everything but the coldness 
of the night and the too-great stress of physical want. 

But this Russian revolutionist was far too capable and versatile 
a man to lie long in low water. He had a genius for industrial 
chemistry which soon got him employment and from the sufficiently 
comfortable made him prosperous by rapid stages. But what of 
that ? Before long another wave of political disturbance rose in 
Europe ; Russia, Italy, France, twas all one to Vernet when his 
sympathies were roused ; and after one or two temporary disappear 
ances he was again lost altogether. There was no news of him for 
months ; and then his wife, who all this while had been sinking back 
into the pallid speechless deadness of the King s Cross days, 
suddenly disappeared too. 


For more than thirty years a period of enormous change in all 
that men do or think no word of Vernet came to my know 
ledge. But though quite passed away he was never forgotten long, 
and it was with an inrush of satisfaction that, a year or two ago, I 
received this letter from him : 

". . . . I have been reading the Review, and it determines 

me to solicit a pleasure which I have been at full-cock to ask for 
many times since I returned to England in 1887. Let us meet. I 
have something to say to you. But let us not meet in this horrifically 
large and noisy town. You know Richmond ? You know the Star 


By Frederick Greenwood 19 

and Garter Hotel there ? Choose a day when you will go to find 
me in that hotel. It shall be in a quiet room looking over the trees 
and the river, and there we will dine and sit and talk over our dear 
tobacco in a right place. 

"To say one word of the past, that you may know and then forget. 
Marie is gone gone twelve years since ; and my daughter, gone. I 
do not speak of them. And do not you expect to find in me any 
more the Vernet of old days." 

Nor was he. The splendidly robust and soldierly figure of 
thirty-five had changed into a thin, fine-featured old man, above 
all things gentle, thoughtful, considerate. Except that there was 
no suggestion of a second and an inner self in him, he might have 
been an ecclesiastic ; as it was, he looked rather as if he had been all 
his life a recluse student of books and state affairs. 

It was a good little dinner in a bright room overlooking the 
garden ; and it was served so early that the declining sunshine of 
a June day shone through our claret-glasses when coffee was brought 
in. Our first talk was of matters of the least importance our 
own changing fortunes over a period of prodigious change for the 
whole world. From that personal theme to the greater mutations 
that affect all mankind was a quick transition ; and we had not 
long been launched on this line of talk before I found that in 
very truth nothing had changed more than Vernet himself. It 
was the story of Ignatius Loyola over again, in little and with a 

"Yes," said he, my mind filling with unspoken wonder at this 
during a brief pause in the conversation, " Yes, prison did me 
good. Not in the rough way you think, perhaps, as of taking 
nonsense out of a man with a stick, but as solitude. Strict 
Catholics go into retreat once a year, and it does them good as 
Catholics: whether otherwise I do not know, but it is possible. 
The Yellow Book Vol. II. B You 

2o The Gospel of Content 

You have a wild philosopher whom I love ; and wild philosophers 
are much the best. In them there is more philosophic sport, more 
surprise, more shock; and it is shock that crystallises. They 
startle the breath into our own unborn thoughts thoughts formed 
in the mind, you know, but without any ninth month for them : 
they wait for some outer voice to make them alive. Well, once 
upon a time I heard this philosopher, your Mr. Ruskin, say that 
only the most noble, most virtuous, most beautiful young men 
should be allowed to go to the war ; the others, never. And he 
maintained it ah ! in language from some divine madhouse in 
heaven. But as to that, it is a great objection that your army is 
already small. Yet of this I am nearly sure ; it is the wrong men 
who go to gaol. The rogues and thieves should give place to honest 
men honest reflective men. Every advantage of that conclusive 
solitude is lost on blackguard persons and is mostly turned to harm. 
For them prescribe one, two, three applications of your cat-o -nine 
tails " 

" There is knout like it ! " said I, intending a severity of retort 
which I hoped would not be quite lost in the pun. 

" and then a piece of bread, a shilling, and dismissal to the 

most devout repentance that brutish crime is ever acquainted with, 
repentance in stripes. Imprisonment is wasted on persons of so 
inferior character. Waste it not, and you will have accommodation 
for wise men to learn the monk s lesson (did you ever think it ah 
foolishness?) that a little imperious hardship, a time of seclusion 
with only themselves to talk to themselves, is most improving. 
For statesmen and reformers it should be an obligation." 

" And according to your experience what is the general course 
of the improvement ? In what direction does it run ? " 

" At best ? In sum total ? You know me that lam no monk 
nor lover of monks, but I say to you wha.t the monk would say 


By Frederick Greenwood 21 

were he still a man and intelligent. The chief good is rising 
above petty irritation, petty contentiousness ; it is patience with 
ills that must last long; it is choosing to build out the east wind 
instead of running at it with a sword." 

"And, if I remember aright, you never had that sword out of 
your hand." 

"From twenty years old to fifty, never out of my hand. But 
there were excuses no, but more than excuses ; remember that 
that was another time. Now how different it is, and what satisfac 
tion to have lived to see the change ! " 

" And what is the change you are thinking of! " 

" One that I have read of only he must not flatter himself that 
he alone could find it out in some Review articles of an old 
friend of Vernet s whose portrait is before me now." And then, 
a little to my distress, but more to my pleasure, he quoted from two 
or three forgotten papers of mine on the later developments of 
social humanity, the "evolution of goodness " in the relations 
of men to each other, the new, great and rapid extension oi 
brotherly kindness ; observations and theories which were welcomed 
as novel when they were afterwards taken up and enlarged upon 
by Mr. Kidd in his book on " Social Evolution." 

" For an ancient conspirator and man of the barricades," con 
tinued Vernet, by this time pacing the room in the dusk which he 
would not allow to be disturbed, " for a blood-and-iron man who 
put all his hopes of a better day for his poor devils of fellow- 
creatures on the smashing of forms and institutions and the sub 
stitution of others, I am rather a surprising convert, don t you 
think ? But who could know in those days what was going on 
in the common stock of mind by what shall we call it ? Before 
your Darwin brought out his explaining word evolution I should 
have said that the change came about by a sort of mental chemistry ; 


22 The Gospel of Content 

that it was due to a kind of chemical ferment in the mind, unsus 
pected till it showed entirely new growths and developments. 
And even now, you know, I am not quite comfortable with 
evolution as the word for this sudden spiritual advance into 
what you call common kindness and more learned persons call 
altruism. It does not satisfy me, evolution." 

" But you can say why it doesn t, perhaps." 

" Nothing, more, I suppose, than the familiar association of 
evolution with slow degrees and gradual processes. Evolution 
seems to speak the natural coming-out of certain developments 
from certainorganismsundercertain conditions. The changecomes, 
and you see it coming ; and you can look back and trace its 
advance. But here? The human mind has been the same for ages ; 
subject to the same teaching ; open to the same persuasions and 
dissuasions ; as quick to see and as keen to think as it is now ; and 
all the while it has been staring on the same cruel scenes of misery 
and privation : no, but very often worse. And then, presto ! there 
comes a sudden growth of fraternal sentiment all over this field of 
the human mind ; and such a growth that if it goes on, if it goes on 
straight and well, it will transform the whole world. Transform 
its economies ? it will change its very aspect. Towns, streets, 
houses will show the difference ; while as to man himself, it 
will make him another being. For this is neither a physical 
nor a mere intellectual advance. As for that, indeed, perhaps 
the intellectual advance hasn t very much farther to go on its 
own lines, which are independent of morality, or of goodness 
as I prefer to say : the simple word ! Well, do you care if 
evolution has pretty nearly done with intellect ? Would you 
mind if intellect never made a greater shine ? Will your heart 
break if it never ascends to a higher plane than it has reached 
already ? " 


By Frederick Greenwood 23 

" Not a bit ; if, in time, nobody is without a good working share 
of what intellect there is amongst us." 

" No, not a bit ! Enough of intellect for the good and happi 
ness of mankind if we evolve no more of it. But this is another 
thing ! This is a spiritual evolution, spiritual advance and develop 
ment a very different thing ! Mark you, too, that it is not 
shown in a few amongst millions, but is common, general. And 
though, as you have said, it may perish at its beginnings, trampled 
out by war, the terrible war to come may absolutely confirm it. 
For my part, I don t despair of its surviving and spreading even 
from the battle-field. It is your own word that not only has the 
growth of common kindness been more urgent, rapid and general 
this last hundred years than was ever witnessed before in the whole 
long history of the world, but it has come out as strongly in 
making war as in making peace. It is seen in extending to 
foes a benevolence which not long ago would have been thought 
ludicrous and even unnatural. Why, then, if that s so, the feeling 
may be furthered and intensified by the very horrors of the next 
great war, such horrors as there must be ; and God knows ! God 
knows ! but from this beginning the spiritual nature of man may 
be destined to rise as far above the rudimentary thing it is yet (I 
think of a staggering blind puppy) as King Solomon s wits were 
above an Eskimo s." 

" Still the same enthusiast," I said to myself, " though with so 
great a difference." But what struck me most was the reverence 
with which he said " God knows ! " For the coolest Encyclopedist 
could not have denied the existence of God with a more settled 
air than did " the Vernet of old days." 

" And yet," so he went on, " were the human race to become 
all-righteous in a fortnight, and to push out angels wings from its 
shoulders, every one ! every one ! all together on Christmas Day, 


24 The Gospel of Content 

it would still be the Darwinian process. Yes, we must stick to it, 
that it is evolution, I suppose, and I m sure it contents me well 
enough. What matter for the process ! And yet do you know 
what I think ? 

Lights had now been brought in by the waiter a waiter who 
really could not understand why not. But we sat by the 
open window looking out upon the deepening darkness of the 
garden, beyond which the river shone as if by some pale effulgence 
of its own, or perhaps by a little store of light saved up from the 
liberal sunshine of the day. 

"Do you know what I think ?" said Vernet, with the look of 
a man who is about to confess a weakness of which he is ashamed. 
" I sometimes think that if I were of the orthodox I should draw 
an argument for supernatural religion, against your strict materi 
alists, from this sudden change of heart in Christian countries. 
For that is what it is. It is a change of heart ; or, if you like to 
have it so, of spirit ; and the remarkable thing is that it is nothing 
else. Whether it lasts or not, this awakening of brotherliness cannot 
be completely understood unless that is understood. What else 
has changed, these hundred years ? There is no fresh discovery of 
human suffering, no new knowledge of the desperate poverty and toil 
of so many of our fellow-creatures: nor can we see better with 
our eyes, or understand better what we hear and see. This that 
we are talking about is a heart-growth, which, as we know, can 
make the lowliest peasant divine ; not a mind-growth, which can 
be splendid in the coldest and most devilish man. Well, then, 
were I of the orthodox I should say this. When, after many 
generations, I see a traceless movement of the spirit of man 
like the one we are speaking of a movement which, if it gains 
in strength and goes on to its natural end, will transfigure human 
society and make it infinitely more like heaven I think the 


By Frederick Greenwood 25 

divine influence upon the development of man as a spirit may be 
direct and continuous ; or, it would be better to say, not without 

Vernet had to be reminded that the intellectual development of 
man had also shown itself in sudden starts and rushes toward per 
fection now in one land, now in another ; and never with an 
appearance of gradual progress, as might be expected from the nature 
of things. And therefore nothing in the spiritual advance which 
is declared by the sudden efflorescence of " altruism " dissociates 
it from the common theory of evolution. This he was forced to 
admit. " I know," he replied ; " and as to intellectual develop 
ment showing itself by starts and rushes, it is very obvious." But 
though he made the admission, I could see that he preferred belief 
in direct influence from above. And this was Vernet ! a most 
unexpected example of that Return to Religion which was not so 
manifest when we talked together as it is to-day. 

" You see, I am a soldier," he resumed, " and a soldier born and 
bred does not know how to get on very long without feeling the 
presence of a General, a Commander. That I find as I grow 
old ; my youth would have been ashamed to acknowledge the 
sentiment. And for its own sake, I hope that Science is becoming 
an old gentleman too, and willing to see its youthful confidence in 
the destruction of religious belief quite upset. For upset it cer 
tainly will be, and very much by its own hands. Most of the new 
professors were sure that the religious idea was to perish at last in 
the light of scientific inquiry. None of them seemed to suspect 
what I remember to have read in a fantastic magazine article two 
or three years ago, that unbelief in the existence of a providential 
God, the dissolution of that belief, would not retard but probably 
draw on more quickly the greater and yet unfulfilled triumphs of 
Christ on earth. Are you surprised at that ? Certainly it is not 


26 The Gospel of Content 

the general idea of what unbelief is capable of. And what, says 
some one in the story, what are those greater triumphs ? To 
which the answer is : The extension of charity, the diffusion of 
brotherly love, greed suppressed, luxury shameful, service and self- 
sacrifice a common law something like what we see already 
between mother and child, it was said. Now what do you think 
of that as a consequence of settled unbelief? As for Belief, we 
must allow that that has not done much to bring on the greater 
triumphs of Christianity." 

" And how is Unbelief to do this mighty work r " said I. 

" You would like to know ! Why, in a most natural way, and 
not at all mysterious. But if you ask in how long a time- 
Well, it is thus, as I understand. What the destruction of religious 
faith might have made of the world centuries ago we cannot tell ; 
nothing much worse, perhaps, than it was under Belief, for belief 
can exist with little change of heart. But these are new times. 
Unbelief cannot annihilate the common feeling of humanity. On 
the contrary, we see that it is just when Science breaks religion 
down into agnosticism that a new day of tenderness for suffering 
begins, and poverty looks for the first time like a wrong. And 
why ? To answer that question we should remember what cen 
turies of belief taught us as to the place of man on earth in the 
plan of the Creator. This world, it was a scene of probation. 
The mystery of pain and suffering, the burdens of life apportioned 
so unequally, the wicked prosperous, goodness wretched, innocent 
weakness trodden down or used up in starving toil all this was 
explained by the scheme of probation. It was only for this life ; 
and every hour of it we were under the eyes of a heavenly Father 
who knows all and weighs all ; and there will be a future of 
redress that will leave no misery unreckoned, no weakness uncon- 
sidered, no wrong uncompensated that was patiently borne. Don t 


By Frederick Greenwood 27 

you remember ? And how comfortable the doctrine was ! How 
entirely it soothed our uneasiness when, sitting in warmth and 
plenty, we thought of the thousands of poor wretches outside ! 
And it was a comfort for the poor wretches too, who believed 
most when they were most miserable or foully wronged that in 
His own good time God would requite or would avenge. 

" Very well. But now, says my magazine sermoniser, sup 
pose this idea of a heavenly Father a mistake and probation a 
fairy tale; suppose that there is no Divine scheme of redress 
beyond the grave : how do we mortals stand to each other then ? 
How do we stand to each other in a world empty of all promise 
beyond it ? What is to become of our scene-of-probation com 
placency, we who are happy and fortunate in the midst of so much 
wrong ? And if we do not busy ourselves with a new dispensa 
tion on their behalf, what hope or consolation is there for the 
multitude of our fellow-creatures who are born to unmerited 
misery in the only world there is for any of us ? It is clear that 
if we must give up the Divine scheme of redress as a dream, 
redress is an obligation returned upon ourselves. All will not be 
well in another world : all must be put right in this world or no 
where and never. Dispossessed of God and a future life, mankind 
is reduced to the condition of the wild creatures, each with a 
natural right to ravage for its own good. If in such conditions 
there is a duty of forbearance from ravaging, there is a duty of 
helpful surrender too ; and unbelief must teach both duties, unless 
it would import upon earth the hell it denies. Unbelief is a call 
to bring in the justice, the compassion, the oneness of brother 
hood that can never make a heaven for us elsewhere. So the 
thing goes on ; the end of the argument being that in this way 
unbelief itself may turn to the service of Heaven and do the work 
of the believer s God. More than that : in the doing of it the 


28 The Gospel of Content 

spiritual nature of man must be exalted, step by step. That may 
be its way of perfection. On that path it will rise higher and 
higher into Divine illuminations which have touched it but very 
feebly as yet, even after countless ages of existence. 

" Do you recognise these speculations ? " said Vernet, after a 

I recognised them well enough, without at all anticipating that 
so much of them would presently re-appear in the formal theory 
of more than one social philosopher. 

There was a piano in the little room we dined in. For a 
minute or two Vernet, standing with his cigar between his lips, 
went lightly over the keys. The movement, though extremely 
quick, was wonderfully soft, so that he had not to raise his voice 
in saying : 

" I have an innocent little speculation of my own. How long 
will it be before this spiritual perfectioning is pretty near accom 
plishment ? Two thousand years ? One thousand years ? 
Twenty generations at the least ! Ah, that is the despair of us 
poor wretches of to-day and to-morrow. Well, when the time 
comes I fancy that an entirely new literature will have a new 
language. There will certainly be a new literature if ever spiritual 
progress equals intellectual progress. The dawning of conceptions 
as yet undreamt of, enlightenments higher than any yet attained 
to, may be looked for, I suppose, as in the natural order of things ; 
and even without extraordinary revelations to the spirit, the spiritual 
advance must have an enormous effect in disabusing, informing 
and inspiring mental faculty such as we know it now. And 
meanwhile ? Meanwhile words are all that we speak with, and 
how weak are words ? Already there are heights and depths of 
feeling which they are hardly more adequate to express than the 
dumbness of the dog can express his love for his master. Yet 


By Frederick Greenwood 29 

there is a language that speaks to the deeper thought and finer 
spirit in us as words do not moving them profoundly though 
they have no power of articulate response. They heave and struggle 
to reply, till our breasts are actually conscious of pain sometimes ; 
but no articulate answer. Do you recognise - ? 

I pointed to the piano with the finger of interrogation. 

" Yes," said Vernet, with a delicate sweep of the keyboard, 
" it is this ! It is music ; music, which is felt to be the most 
subtle, most appealing, most various of tongues even while we 
know that we are never more than half awake to its pregnant 
meanings, and have not learnt to think of it as becoming the last 
perfection of speech. But that may be its appointed destiny. No, 
I don t think so only because music itself is a thing of late, speedy 
and splendid development, coming just before the later diffusion of 
spiritual growth. Yet there is something in that, something 
which an evolutionist would think apposite and to be expected. 
There is more, however, in what music is a voice always under 
stood to have powerful innumerable meanings appealing to we 
know not what in us, we hardly know how ; and more, again, in 
its being an exquisite voice which can make no use of reason, nor 
reason of it ; nor calculation, nor barter, nor anything but 
emotion and thought. The language we are using now, we two, 
is animal language by direct pedigree, which is worth observation 
don t you think ? And, for another thing, when it began it had 
very small likelihood of ever developing into what it has become 
under the constant addition of man s business in the world and 
the accretive demands of reason and speculation. And the poets 
have made it very beautiful no doubt ; yes, and when it is most 
beautiful it is most musical, please observe : most beautiful, and 
at the same time most meaning. Well, then ! A new nature, 
new needs. What do you think ? What do you say against 


30 The Gospel of Content 

music being wrought into another language for mankind, as it 
nears the height of its spiritual growth ? 

"Isay it isa pretty fancy, and quitewithinreasonablespeculation." 
" But yet not of the profoundest consequence," added Vernet, 
coming from the piano and resuming his seat by the window. 
" No ; but what is of consequence is the cruel tedium of these evolu 
tionary processes. A thousand years, and how much movement ? 
" Remember the sudden starts towards perfection, and that the 
farther we advance the more we may be able to help." 

"Well, but that is the very thing I meant to say. Help is not 
only desirable, it is imperatively called for. For an unfortunate 
offensive movement risesagai nst this better one,which will bechecked, 
or perhaps thrown back altogether, unless the stupid reformers who 
confront the new spirit of kindness with the highwayman s demand 
are brought to reason. What I most willingly yield to friend and 
brother I do not choose to yield to an insulting thief ; rather 
will I break his head in the cause of divine Civility. Robbery is 
no way of righteousness, and your gallant reformers who think it 
a fine heroic means of bringing on a better time for humanity should 
be taught that some devil has put the wrong plan into their heads. 
It is his way of continuing under new conditions the old conflict 
of evil and good." 

"But taught ! How should these so-earnest ones be taught ?" 

" Ah, how ! Then leave the reformers ; and while they inculcate 
their mistaken Gospel of Rancour, let every wise man preach the 
Gospel of Content." 

"Content with things as they are ?" 

"Why, no, my friend; for that would be preaching content 
with universal uncontent, which of course cannot last into a 
reign of wisdom and peace. But if you ask me whether I mean 
content with a very very little of this world s goods, or even con 

By Frederick Greenwood 31 

tentment in poverty, I say yes. There will be no better day till 
that gospel has found general acceptance, and has been taken into 
the common habitudes of life. The end may be distant enough ; 
but it is your own opinion that the time is already ripe for the 
preacher, and if he were no Peter the Hermit but only another, 
another " 

" Father Mathew, inspired with more saintly fervour 

"Who knows how far he might carry the divine light to which 
so many hearts are awakening in secret ? This first Christianity, 
it was but the false dawn. Yes, we may think so." 

Here there was a pause for a few moments, and then I put in a 
word to the effect that it would be difficult to commend a gospel 
of content to Poverty. 

"But," said Vernet, " it will be addressed more to the rich and 
well-to-do, as you call them, bidding them be content with enough. 
Not forbidding them to strive for more than enough that would 
never do. The good of mankind demands that all its energies 
should be maintained, but not that its energies should be meanly 
employed in grubbing for the luxury that is no enjoyment but only 
a show, or that palls as soon as it is once enjoyed, and then is no 
more felt as luxury than the labourer s second pair of boots or the 
mechanic s third shirt a week. For the men of thousands per 
annum the Gospel of Content would be the wise, wise, wise old 
injunction to plain living and high thinking, only with one addi 
tion both beautiful and wise : kind thinking, and the high and the 
kind thinking made good in deed. And it would work, this gospel ; 
we may be sure of it already. For luxury has became common ; it 
is being found out. Where there was one person at the beginning 
of the century who had daily experience of its fatiguing disappoint 
ments, now there are fifty. Like everything else, it loses dis 
tinction by coming abundantly into all sorts of hands ; and mean 

32 The Gospel of Content 

while other and nobler kinds of distinction have multiplied and 
have gained acknowledgment. And from losing distinction 
this you must have observed luxury is becoming vulgar ; and I 
don t know why the time should be so very far off when it will be 
accounted shameful. Certain it is that year by year a greater 
number of minds, and such as mostly determine the currents of 
social sentiment, think luxury low ; without going deeper than the 
mere look of it, perhaps. These are hopeful signs. Here is good 
encouragement to stand out and preach a gospel of content which 
would be an education in simplicity, dignity, happiness, and yet 
more an education of heart and spirit. For nothing that a man 
can do in this world works so powerfully for his own spiritual good 
as the habit of sacrifice to kindness. It is so like a miracle that it 
is, I am sure, the one way the one way appointed by the laws or 
our spiritual growth. 

"Yes, and what about preaching the gospel of content to Poverty ? 
Well, there we must be careful to discriminate careful to dis 
entangle poverty from some other things which are the same thing 
in the common idea. Say but this, that there must be no content 
with squalor, none with any sort of uncleanness, and poverty takes 
its own separate place and its own unsmirched aspect. An honour 
able poverty, clear of squalor, any man should be able to endure 
with a tranquil mind. To attain to that tranquillity is to attain to 
nobleness ; and persistence in it, though effort fail and desert go 
quite without reward, ennobles. Contentment in poverty does not 
mean crouching to it or under it. Contentment is not cowardice, 
but fortitude. There is no truer assertion of manliness, and none 
with more grace and sweetness. Before it can have an established 
place in the breast of any man, envy must depart from it envy, 
jealousy, greed, readiness to take half-honest gains, a horde of small 
ignoble sentiments not only disturbing but poisonous to the 


By Frederick Greenwood 33 

ground they grow in. Ah, believe me ! if a man had eloquence 
enough, fire enough, and that command of sympathy that your 
Gordon seems to have had (not to speak of a man like Mahomet or 
to touch on more sacred names), he might do wonders for mankind 
in a single generation by preaching to rich and poor the several 
doctrines of the Gospel of Content. A curse on the mean 
strivings, stealings, and hoardings that survive from our animal 
ancestry, and another curse (by your permission) on the gaudy 
vanities that we have set up for objects in life since we became 
reasoning creatures." 

In effect,here the conversation ended. More was said, but nothing 
worth recalling. Drifting back to less serious talk, we gossiped 
till midnight, and then parted with the heartiest desire (I speak for 
myself) of meeting soon again. But on our way back to town Vernet 
recurred for a moment to the subject of his di course, saying : 

" I don t make out exactly what you think now of the prospect 
we were talking of." 

My answer pleased him. " I incline to think," said I, " what I 
have long thought : that if there is any such future for us, and I 
believe there is, we of the older European nations will be nowhere 
when it comes. In existence yes, perhaps ; but gone down. 
You see we are becoming greybeards already ; while you in Russia 
are boys, with every mark of boyhood on you. You, you are a 
new race the only new race in the world ; and it is plain that 
you swarm with ideas of precisely the kind that, when you come 
to maturity, may re-invigorate the world. But first, who knows 
what deadly wars ? " 

He pressed his hand upon my knee in a way that spoke a great 
deal. We parted, and two months afterwards the Vernet whose 
real name ended in " ieff" was " happed in lead." 

Poor Cousin Louis 

By Ella D Arcy 

THERE stands in the Islands a house known as " Les Calais." 
It has stood there already some three hundred years, and 
do judge from its stout walls and weather-tight appearance, 
promises to stand some three hundred more. Built of brown 
home-quarried stone, with solid stone chimney-stacks and roof 
of red tiles, its door is set in the centre beneath a semi-circular 
arch of dressed granite, on the keystone of which is deeply cut 
the date of construction : 

J V N I 

Above the date straggle the letters, L G M M, initials of the 
forgotten names of the builder of the house and of the woman 
he married. In the summer weather of 1603 that inscription 
was cut, and the man and woman doubtless read it with pride and 
pleasure as they stood looking up at their fine new homestead. 
They believed it would carry their names down to posterity 
when they themselves should be gone ; yet there stand the 
initials to-day, while the personalities they represent are as lost to 
memory as are the builders graves. 

At the moment when this little sketch opens, Les Calais had 


By Ella D Arcy 35 

belonged for three generations to the family of Renouf (pro 
nounced Rennuf), and it is with the closing days of Mr. Louis 
Renouf that it purposes to deal. But first to complete the 
description of the house, which is typical of the Islands : hundreds 
of such homesteads placed singly, or in groups then sharing in 
one common name may be found there in a day s wallc, 
although it must be added that a day s walk almost suffices to 
explore any one of the Islands from end to end. 

Les Calais shares its name with none. It stands alone, com 
pletely hidden, save at one point only, by its ancient elms. On 
either side of the doorway are two windows, each of twelve small 
panes, and there is a row of five similar windows above. Around 
the back and sides of the house cluster all sorts of outbuildings, 
necessary dependencies of a time when men made their own 
cider and candles, baked their own bread, cut and stacked their 
own wood, and dried the dung of their herds for extra winter fuel. 
Beyond these lie its vegetable and fruit gardens, which again are 
surrounded on every side by its many rich verg^es of pasture 

Would you find Les Calais, take the high road from Jacques- 
le-Port to the village of St. Gilles, then keep to the left of the 
schools along a narrow lane cut between high hedges. It is a 
cart track only, as the deep sun-baked ruts testify, leading direct 
from St. Gilles to Vauvert, and, likely enough, during the whole of 
that distance you will not meet with a solitary person. You will 
see nothing but the green running hedgerows on either hand, the 
blue-domed sky above, from whence the lark, a black pin-point in 
the blue, flings down a gush of song ; while the thrush you have 
disturbed lunching off that succulent snail, takes short ground 
flights before you, at every pause turning back an ireful eye to 
judge how much farther you intend to pursue him. He is happy 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. C if 

36 Poor Cousin Louis 

if you branch off midway to the left down the lane leading 
straight to Les Calais. 

A gable end of the house faces this lane, and its one window in 
the days of Louis Renouf looked down upon a dilapidated farm- 
and stable-yard, the gate of which, turned back upon its hinges, 
stood wide open to the world. Within might be seen granaries 
empty of grain, stables where no horses fed, a long cow-house 
crumbling into ruin, and the broken stone sections of a cider 
trough dismantled more than half a century back. Cushions of 
emerald moss studded the thatches, and liliputian forests of grass- 
blades sprang thick between the cobble stones. The place might 
have been mistaken for some deserted grange, but for the con 
tradiction conveyed in a bright pewter full-bellied water-can stand 
ing near the well, in a pile of firewood, with chopper still stuck 
in the topmost billet, and in a tatterdemalion troop of barn-door 
fowl lagging meditatively across the yard. 

On a certain day, when summer warmth and unbroken silence 
brooded over all, and the broad sunshine blent the yellows, reds, 
and greys of tile and stone, the greens of grass and foliage, into 
one harmonious whole, a visitor entered the open gate. This was 
a tall, large young woman, with a fair, smooth, thirty-year-old 
face. Dressed in what was obviously her Sunday best, although it 
was neither Sunday nor even market-day, she wore a bonnet 
diademed with gas-green lilies of the valley, a netted black 
mantilla, and a velvet-trimmed violet silk gown, which she 
carefully lifted out of dust s way, thus displaying a stiffly starched 
petticoat and kid spring-side boots. 

Such attire, unbeautiful in itself and incongruous with its sur 
roundings, jarred harshly with the picturesque note of the scene. 
From being a subject to perpetuate on canvas, it shrunk, as it were, 
to the background of a cheap photograph, or the stage adjuncts 


By Ella D Arcy 37 

to the heroine of a farce. The silence too was shattered as the 
new comer s foot fell upon the stones. An unseen dog began 
to mouth a joyous welcome, and the fowls, lifting their thin, 
apprehensive faces towards her, flopped into a clumsy run as 
though their last hour were visible. 

The visitor meanwhile turned familiar steps to a door in the 
wall on the left, and raising the latch, entered the flower garden of 
Les Calais. This garden, lying to the south, consisted then, and 
perhaps does still, of two square grass-plots with a broad gravel 
path running round them and up to the centre of the house. 

In marked contrast with the neglect of the farmyard was this 
exquisitely kept garden, brilliant and fragrant with flowers. From 
a raised bed in the centre of each plot standard rose-trees shed out 
gorgeous perfume from chalices of every shade of loveliness, and 
thousands of white pinks justled shoulder to shoulder in narrow 
bands cut within the borders of the grass. 

Busy over these, his back towards her, was an elderly man, 
braces hanging, in coloured cotton shirt. " Good afternoon, 
Tourtel," cried the lady, advancing. Thus addressed, he straight 
ened himself slowly and turned round. Leaning on his hoe, he 
shaded his eyes with his hand. "Eh den! it s you, Missis 
Pedvinn," said he ; " but we didn t expec you till to-morrow ? " 

" No, it s true," said Mrs. Poidevin, " that I wrote I would 
come Saturday, but Pedvinn expects some friends by the English 
boat, and wants me to receive them. Yet as they may be stay 
ing the week, I did not like to put poor Cousin Louis off so long 
without a visit, so thought I had better come up to-day." 

Almost unconsciously, her phrases assumed apologetic form. 
She had an uneasy feeling Tourtel s wife might resent her un 
expected advent ; although why Mrs. Tourtel should object, or 
why she herself should stand in any awe of the Tourtels, she 


38 Poor Cousin Louis 

could not have explained. Tourtel was but gardener, the wite 
housekeeper and nurse, to her cousin Louis Renouf, master of Les 
Calais. " I sha n t inconvenience Mrs. Tourtel, I hope ? Of 
course I shouldn t think of staying tea if she is busy ; I ll just sit 
an hour with Cousin Louis, and catch the six o clock omnibus 
home from Vauvert." 

Tourtel stood looking at her with wooden countenance, in 
which two small shifting eyes alone gave signs of life. "Eh, 
but you won t be no inconvenience to de ole woman, ma am," 
said he suddenly, in so loud a voice that Mrs. Poidevin jumped ; 
" only de apple-goche, dat she was goin to bake agen your visit, 
won t be ready, dat s all." 

He turned, and stared up at the front of the house ; Mrs. 
Poidevin, for no reason at all, did so too. Door and windows 
were open wide. In the upper storey, the white roller-blinds were 
let down against the sun, and on the broad sills of the parlour 
windows were nosegays placed in blue china jars. A white 
trellis-work criss-crossed over the fa9ade, for the support of 
climbing ) rose and purple clematis which hung out a curtain of 
blossom almost concealing the masonry behind. The whole 
place breathed of peace and beauty, and Louisa Poidevin was 
lapped round with that pleasant sense of well-being which it 
was her chief desire in life never to lose. Though poor Cousin 
Louis feeble, childish, solitary was so much to be pitied, at 
least in his comfortable home and his worthy Tourtels he found 

An instant after Tourtel had spoken, a woman passed across 
the wide hall. She had on a blue linen skirt, white stockings, and 
shoes of grey list. The strings of a large, bibbed, lilac apron 
drew the folds of a flowered bed-jacket about her ample waist ; 
and her thick yellow-grey hair, worn without a cap, was arranged 


By Ella D Arcy 39 

smoothly on either side of a narrow head. She just glanced 
and Mrs. Poidevin was on the point of calling to her, when 
Tourtel fell into a torrent of words about his flowers. He had so 
much to say on the subject of horticulture ; was so anxious for 
her to examine the freesia bulbs lying in the tool-house, just 
separated from the spring plants ; he denounced so fiercely the 
grinding policy of Brehault the middleman, who purchased his 
garden stuff to resell it at Covent Garden "my good! on dem 
freesias I didn t make not two doubles a bunch ! " that for a long 
quarter of an hour all memory of her cousin was driven from 
Mrs. Poidevin s brain. Then a voice said at her elbow, "Mr. 
Rennuf is quite ready to see you, ma am," and there stood Tourtel s 
wife, with pale composed face, square shoulders and hips, and feet 
that moved noiselessly in her list slippers. 

"Ah, Mrs. Tourtel, how do you do?" said the visitor; a 
question which in the Islands is no mere formula, but demands 
and obtains a detailed answer, after which the questioner s own 
health is politely inquired into. Not until this ceremony had 
been scrupulously accomplished, and the two women were on 
their way to the house, did Mrs. Poidevin beg to know how 
things were going with her " poor cousin." 

There lay something at variance between the ruthless, calculat 
ing spirit which looked forth from the housekeeper s cold eye, and 
the extreme suavity of her manner of speech. 

"Eh, my good ! but much de same, ma am, in his health, 
an more fancies dan ever in his head. First one ting an 
den anudder, an always tinking dat everybody is robbin him. 
You rem-ember de larse time you was here, an Mister Rennuf 
was abed ? Well, den, after you was gone, if he didn t deck- 
clare you had taken some of de fedders of his bed away wid 
you. Yes, my good ! he tought you had cut a hole in de 


40 Poor Cousin Louis 

tick, as you sat dere beside him an emptied de fedders away 
into your pocket." 

Mrs. Poidevin was much interested. " Dear me, is it possible ? 
.... But it s quite a mania with him. I remember now, on 
that very day he complained to me Tourtel was wearing his shirts, 
and wanted me to go in with him to Lepage s to order some new 


"Eh! but what would Tourtel want wid fine white shirts 
like dem ?" said the wife placidly. "But Mr. Louis have such 
dozens an dozens of em dat dey gets hidden away in de presses, 
an he tinks dem stolen." 

They reached the house. The interior is quite as characteristic 
of the Islands as is the outside. Two steps take you down 
into the hall, crossing the further end of which is the staircase 
with its balustrade of carved black oak. Instead of the mean 
painted sticks, known technically as " raisers," and connected 
together at the top by a vulgar mahogany hand-rail a funda 
mental article of faith with the modern builder these old 
Island balustrades are formed of wooden panels, fretted out 
into scrolls, representing flower, or leaf, or curious beaked and 
winged creatures, which go curving, creeping, and ramping along 
in the direction of the stairs. In every house you will find the 
detail different, while each resembles all as a whole. For in the 
old days the workman, were he never so humble, recognised the 
possession of an individual mind, as well as of two eyes and two 
hands, and he translated fearlessly this individuality of his into 
his work. Every house built in those days and existing down 
to these, is not only a confession, in some sort, of the tastes, the 
habits, the character, of the man who planned it, but preserves 
a record likewise of every one of the subordinate minds employed 
in the various parts. 


By Ella D Arcy 41 

Off the hall of Les Calais are two rooms on the left and one on 
the right. The solidity of early seventeenth-century walls is shown 
in the embrasure depth (measuring fully three feet) of windows and 
doors. Up to fifty years ago all the windows had leaded casements, 
as had every similar Island dwelling-house. To-day, to the 
artist s regret, you will hardly find one. The showy taste of the 
Second Empire spread from Paris even to these remote parts, 
and plate-glass, or at least oblong panes, everywhere replaced the 
mediaeval style. In 1854, Louis Renouf, just three and thirty, 
was about to bring his bride, Miss Marie Mauger, home to the 
old house. In her honour it was done up throughout, and the 
diamonded casements were replaced by guillotine windows, six 
panes to each sash. 

The best parlour then became a " drawing-room " ; its raftered 
ceiling was whitewashed, and its great centre-beam of oak in 
famously papered to match the walls. The newly married couple 
were not in a position to refurnish in approved Second Empire 
fashion. The gilt and marble, the console tables and mirrors, the 
impossibly curved sofas and chairs, were for the moment beyond 
them ; the wife promised herself to acquire these later on. But 
later on came a brood of sickly children (only one of whom 
reached manhood) ; to the consequent expenses Les Calais owed 
the preservation of its inlaid wardrobes, its four-post bedsteads 
with slender fluted columns, and its Chippendale parlour chairs, the 
backs of which simulate a delicious intricacy of twisted ribbons. 
As a little girl, Louisa Poidevin had often amused herself studying 
these convolutions, and seeking to puzzle out among the rippling 
ribbons some beginning or some end ; but as she grew up, even 
the simplest problem lost interest for her, and the sight of the old 
Chippendale chairs standing along the walls of the large parlour 
scarcely stirred her bovine mind now to so much as reminiscence. 


42 Poor Cousin Louis 

It was the door of this large parlour that the housekeeper 
opened as she announced, " Here is Mrs. Pedvinn come to see 
you, sir," and followed the visitor in. 

Sitting in a capacious " berceuse," stuffed and chintz-covered, 
was the shrunken figure of a more than seventy-year-old man. 
He was wrapped in a worn grey dressing-gown, with a black 
velvet skull-cap, napless at the seams, covering his spiritless hair, 
and he looked out upon his narrow world from dim eyes set in 
cavernous orbits. In their expression was something of the 
questioning timidity of a child, contrasting curiously with the 
querulousness of old age, shown in the thin sucked-in lips, now 
and again twitched by a movement in unison with the twitching 
of the withered hands spread out upon his knees. 

The sunshine, slanting through the low windows, bathed hands 
and knees, lean shanks and slippered feet, in mote-flecked streams 
of gold. It bathed anew rafters and ceiling-beam, as it had done 
at the same hour and season these last three hundred years ; it 
played over the worm-eaten furniture, and lent transitory colour 
to the faded samplers on the walls, bringing into prominence one 
particular sampler, which depicted in silks Adam and Eve seated 
beneath the fatal tree, and recorded the fact that Marie Hoched 
was seventeen in 1808 and put her "trust in God" ; and the 
same ray kissed the cheek of that very Marie s son, who at the 
time her girlish fingers pricked the canvas belonged to the envi 
able myriads of the unthought-of and the unborn. 

"Why, how cold you are, Cousin Louis," said Mrs. Poidevin, 
taking his passive hand between her two warm ones, and feeling 
a chill strike from it through the violet kid gloves ; "and in 
spite of all this sunshine too ! " 

" Ah, I m not always in the sunshine," said the old man ; 
"not always, not always in the sunshine." She was not sure 


By Ella D Arcy 43 

that he recognised her, yet he kept hold of her hand and would 
not let it go. 

"No ; you are not always in de sunshine, because de sunshine 
is not always here," observed Mrs. Tourtel in a reasonable voice, 
and with a side glance for the visitor. 

"And I am not always here either," he murmured, half to him 
self. He took a firmer hold of his cousin s hand, and seemed to 
gain courage from the comfortable touch, for his thin voice 
changed from complaint to command. " You can go, Mrs. 
Tourtel," he said ; " we don t require you here. We want to 
talk. You can go and set the tea-things in the next room. My 
cousin will stay and drink tea with me." 

"Why, my cert nly ! of course Mrs. Pedvinn will stay tea. 
PVaps you d like to put your bonnet off in the bedroom, first, 
ma am ? " 

"No, no," he interposed testily, "she can lay it off here. No 
need for you to take her upstairs." 

Servant and master exchanged a mute look ; for the moment 
his old eyes were lighted up with the unforeseeing, unveiled triumph 
of a child; then they fell before hers. She turned, leaving the 
room with noiseless tread ; although a large-built, ponderous 
woman, she walked with the softness of a cat. 

" Sit down here close beside me," said Louis Renouf to 
his cousin, " I ve something to tell you, something very impor 
tant to tell you." He lowered his voice mysteriously, and glanced 
with apprehension at window and door, squeezing tight her hand. 
" I m being robbed, my dear, robbed of everything I possess." 

Mrs. Poidevin, already prepared for such a statement, answered 
complacently, " Oh, it must be your fancy, Cousin Louis. 
Mrs. Tourtel takes too good care of you for that." 

" My dear," he whispered, "silver, linen, everything is going ; 


44 Poor Cousin Louis 

even my fine white shirts from the shelves of the wardrobe. 
Yet everything belongs to poor John, who is in Australia, and 
who never writes to his father now. His last letter is ten years 
old ten years old, my dear, and I don t need to read it over, 
for I know it by heart." 

Tears of weakness gathered in his eyes, and began to trickle 
over on to his cheek. 

" Oh, Cousin John will write soon, I m sure," said Mrs. 
Poidevin, with easy optimism; "I shouldn t wonder if he has 
made a fortune, and is on his way home to you at this moment." 

" Ah, he will never make a fortune, my dear, he was always 
too fond of change. He had excellent capabilities, Louisa, but he 

was too fond of change And yet I often sit and pretend 

to myself he has made money, and is as proud to be with his poor 
old father as he used to be when quite a little lad. I plan out 
all we should do, and all he would say, and just how he would 
look .... but that s only my make-believe ; John will never 
make money, never. But I d be glad if he would come back to 
the old home, though it were without a penny. For if he don t 

come soon, he ll find no home, and no welcome I raised 

all the money I could when he went away, and now, as you know, 

my dear, the house and land go to you and Pedvinn But 

I d like my poor boy to have the silver and linen, and his mother s 
furniture and needlework to remember us by." 

" Yes, cousin, and he will have them some day, but not for a 
great while yet, I hope." 

Louis Renouf shook his head, with the immovable obstinacy of 
the very old or the very young. 

" Louisa, mark my words, he will get nothing, nothing. 
Everything is going. They ll make away with the chairs and 
the tables next, with the very bed I lie on." 


By Ella D Arcy 45 

"Oh, Cousin Louis, you mustn t think such things," said 
Mrs. Poidevin serenely ; had not the poor old man accused her 
to the Tourtels of filching his mattress feathers ? 

" Ah, you don t believe me, my dear," said he, with a resig 
nation which was pathetic: "but you ll remember my words 
when I am gone. Six dozen rat-tailed silver forks, with silver 
candlesticks, and tray, and snuffers. Besides odd pieces, and piles 
and piles of linen. Your cousin Marie was a notable housekeeper, 
and everything she bought was of the very best. The large 
table-cloths were five guineas apiece, my dear, British money- 
five guineas apiece." 

Louisa listened with perfect calmness and scant attention. 
Circumstances too comfortable, and a too abundant diet, had 
gradually undermined with her all perceptive and reflective 
powers. Though, of course, had the household effects been 
coming to her as well as the land, she would have felt more 
interest in them ; but it is only human nature to contemplate the 
possible losses of others with equanimity. 

" They must be handsome cloths, cousin," she said pleasantly ; 
" I m sure Pedvinn would never allow me half so much for mine." 

At this moment there appeared, framed in the open window, 
the hideous vision of an animated gargoyle, with elf-locks of 
flaming red, and an intense malignancy of expression. With a 
finger dragging down the under eyelid of either eye, so that the 
eyeball seemed to bulge out with a finger pulling back either 
corner of the wide mouth, so that it seemed to touch the ear this 
repulsive apparition leered at the old man in blood-curdling 
fashion. Then catching sight of Mrs. Poidevin, who sat dum- 
founded, and with her " heart in her mouth," as she afterwards 
expressed it, the fingers dropped from the face, the features sprang 
back into position, and the gargoyle resolved itself into a buxom 


46 Poor Cousin Louis 

red-haired girl, who, bursting into a laugh, impudently stuck her 
tongue out at them before skipping away. 

The old man had cowered down in his chair with his hands 
over his eyes ; now he looked up. " I thought it was the old 
Judy," he said, " the old Judy she is always telling me about. 
But it s only Margot." 

" And who is Margot, cousin ? " inquired Louisa, still shaken 
from the surprise. 

" She helps in the kitchen. But I don t like her. She pulls 
faces at me, and jumps out upon me from behind doors. And 
when the wind blows and the windows rattle she tells me about 
the old Judy from Jethou, who is sailing over the sea on a broom 
stick, to come and beat me to death. Do you know, my dear," 
he said piteously, "you ll think I m very silly, but I m afraid up 
here by myself all alone ? Do not leave me, Louisa ; stay with 
me, or take me back to town with you. Pedvinn would let me 
have a room in your house, I m sure ? And you wouldn t find me 
much trouble, and of course I would bring my own bed linen, you 

" You had best take your tea first, sir," said Mrs. Tourtel 
from outside the window ; she held scissors in her hand, and 
was busy trimming the roses. She offered no excuse for eaves 

The meal was set out, Island fashion, with abundant cakes 
and sweets. Louisa saw in the silver tea-set another proof, if 
need be, of her cousin s unfounded suspicions. Mrs. Tourtel 
stood in the background, waiting. Renouf desired her to pack 
his things ; he was going into town. " To be sure, sir," she said 
civilly, and remained where she stood. He brought a clenched 
hand down upon the table, so that the china rattled. " Are you 
master here, or am I ? " he cried ; "I am going down to my cousin 

Pedvinn s 

By Ella D Arcy 47 

Pedvinn s. To-morrow I shall send my notary to put seals on 
everything, and to take an inventory. For the future I shall live 

in town." 

His senility had suddenly left him ; he spoke with firmness ; 
it was a flash-up of almost extinct fires. Louisa was astounded. 
Mrs. Tourtel looked at him steadily. Through the partition 
wall, Tourtel in the kitchen heard the raised voice, and followed 
his curiosity into the parlour. Margot followed him. Seen near, 
and with her features at rest, she appeared a plump touzle-headed 
girl, in whose low forehead and loose-lipped mouth, crassness, 
cruelty, and sensuality were unmistakably expressed. Yet freckled 
cheek, rounded chin, and bare red mottled arms, presented the 
beautiful curves of youth, and there was a certain sort of attractive 
ness about her not to be gainsaid. 

"Since my servants refuse to pack what I require," said Renouf 
with dignity, " I will do it myself. Come with me, Louisa." 

At a sign from the housekeeper, Tourtel and Margot made 
way. Mrs. Poidevin would have followed her cousin, as the easiest 
thing to do although she was confused by the old man s outbreak, 
and incapable of deciding what course she should take when the 
deep vindictive baying of the dog ushered a new personage upon 
the scene. 

This was an individual who made his appearance from the 
kitchen regions a tall thin man of about thirty years of age, 
with a pallid skin, a dark eye and a heavy moustache. His shabby 
black coat and tie, with the cords and gaiters that clothed his legs, 
suggested a combination of sportsman and family practitioner. 
He wore a bowler hat, and was pulling off tan driving gloves as he 

" Ah my good ! Doctor Owen, but dat s you ? " said Mrs. 
Tourtel. " But we wants you here badly. Your patient is in one 


48 Poor Cousin Louis 

of his tantrums, and no one can t do nuddin wid him. He says 
he shall go right away into town. Wants to make up again wid 
Doctor Lelever for sure." 

The new comer and Mrs. Poidevin were examining each other 
with the curiosity one feels on first meeting a person long known 
by reputation or by sight. But now she turned to the house 
keeper in surprise. 

" Has my cousin quarrelled with his old friend Doctor 
Lelever ? " she asked. "I ve heard nothing of that." 

" Ah, dis long time. He tought Doctor Lelever made too 
little of his megrims. He won t have nobody but Dr. Owen 
now. P r aps you know Doctor Owen, ma am ? Mrs. Pedvinn, 
Doctor ; de master s cousin, come up to visit him." 

Renouf was heard moving about overhead ; opening presses, 
dragging boxes. 

Owen hung up his hat, putting his gloves inside it. He 
rubbed his lean discoloured hands lightly together, as a fly cleans 
its forelegs. 

" Shall I just step up to him ?" he said. "It may calm him, 
and distract his thoughts." 

With soft nimbleness, in a moment he was upstairs. "So 
that s Doctor Owen?" observed Mrs. Poidevin with interest. 
" A splendid-looking gentleman ! He must be very clever, I m 
sure. Is he beginning to get a good practice yet ? " 

" Ah, bah, our people, as you know, ma am, dey don t like no 
strangers, specially no Englishmen. He was very glad when 

Mr. Rennuf sent for him Twas through Margot there. 

She got took bad one Saturday coming back from market from de 
heat or de squidge " (crowd), " and Doctor Owen he overtook 
her on the road in his gig, and druv her home. Den de master, 
he must have a talk with him, and so de next time he fancy 


By Ella D Arcy 49 

hisself ill, he send for Doctor Owen, and since den he don t care 
for Dr. Lelever no more at all." 

"I ought to be getting off," emarlced Mrs. Poidevin, remem 
bering the hour at which the omnibus left Vauvert ; "had I 
better go up and bid cousin Louis good-bye ? " 

Mrs. Tourtel thought Margot should go and ask the Doctor s 
opinion first, but as Margot had already vanished, she went her 

There was a longish pause, during which Mrs. Poidevin looked 
uneasily at Tourtel ; he with restless furtive eyes at her. Then 
the housekeeper reappeared, noiseless, cool, determined as ever. 

"Mr. Rennuf is quiet now," she said ; " de Doctor have given 
him a soothing draught, and will stay to see how it acts. He 
tinks you d better slip quietly away." 

On this, Louisa Poidevin left Les Calais ; but in spite of her 
easy superficiality, her unreasoning optimism, she took with her 
a sense of oppression. Cousin Louis s appeal rang in her ears : 
Do not leave me; stay with me, or take me back with you. 
I am afraid up here, quite alone." And after all, though his fears 
were but the folly of old age, why, she asked herself, should he 
not come and stay with them in town if he wished to do so ? She 
resolved to talk it over with Pedvinn ; she thought she would 
arrange for him the little west room, being the furthest from the 
nurseries ; and in planning out such vastly important trifles as to 
which easy-chair and which bedroom candlestick she would devote 
to his use, she forgot the old man himself and recovered her usual 
stolid jocundity. 

When Owen had entered the bedroom, he had found Renouf 
standing over an open portmanteau, into which he was placing 
hurriedly whatever caught his eye or took his fancy, from the 
surrounding tables. His hand trembled from eagerness, his pale 


50 Poor Cousin Louis 

old face was flushed with excitement and hope. Owen, going 
straight up to him, put his two hands on his shoulders, and 
without uttering a word, gently forced him backwards into a 
chair. Then he sat down in front of him, so close that their 
knees touched, and fixing his strong eyes on Renouf s wavering 
ones, and stroking with his finger-tips the muscles behind the ears, 
he threw him immediately into an hypnotic trance. 

" You want to stay here, don t you ? " said Owen emphatically. 
" I want to stay here," repeated the old man through grey lips. 
His face was become the colour of ashes, his hands were cold to 
the sight. "You want your cousin to go away and not disturb 
you any more ? Answer answer me." " I want my cousin to 
go away," Renouf murmured, but in his staring, fading eye were 
traces of the struggle tearing him within. 

Owen pressed down the eyelids, made another pass before the 
face, and rose on his long legs with a sardonic grin. Margot, 
leaning across a corner of the bed, had watched him with breath 
less interest. 

" I b lieve you re de Evil One himself," she said admiringly. 

Owen pinched her smooth chin between his tobacco-stained 
thumb and fingers. 

" Pooh ! nothing but a trick I learned in Paris," said he ; 
" it s very convenient to be able to put a person to sleep now and 

" Could you put any one to sleep ? " 

" Any one I wanted to." 

"Do it to me then," she begged him. 

" What use, my girl ? Don t you do all I wish without ? " 

She grimaced, and picked at the bed-quilt laughing, then rose 
and stood in front of him, her round red arms clasped behind her 
head. But he only glanced at her with professional interest. 


By Ella D Arcy 51 

You should get married, my dear, without delay. Pierre 
would be ready enough, no doubt ? " " Bah ! Pierre or annuder 
if I brought a weddin portion. You don t tink to provide 
me wid one, I s pose ? " You know that I can t. But why 
don t you get it from the Tourtels ? You ve earned it before 
this, I dare swear." 

It was now that the housekeeper came up, and took down to 
Louisa Poidevin the message given above. But first she was 
detained by Owen, to assist him in getting his patient into bed. 

The old man woke up during the process, very peevish, very 
determined to get to town. "Well, you can t go till to-morrow 
den," said Mrs. Tourtel ; " your cousin has gone home, an now 
you ve got to go to sleep, so be quiet." She dropped all semblance 
of respect in her tones. " Come, lie down ! " she said sharply, 
" or I ll send Margot to tickle your feet." He shivered and 
whimpered into silence beneath the clothes. 

"Margot tells him bout witches, an ogres, an scrapels her 
fingures long de wall, till he tinks dere goin to fly way wid 
him," she explained to Owen in an aside. " Oh, I know Margot," 
he answered laconically, and thought, " May I never lie helpless 
within reach of such fingers as hers." 

He took a step and stumbled over a portmanteau lying open at 
his feet. " Put your mischievous paws to some use," he told the 
girl, " and clear these things away from the floor ; " then remem 
bering his rival Le Lievre ; " if the old fool had really got away 
to town, it would have been a nice day s work for us all," he 

Downstairs he joined the Tourtels in the kitchen, a room 
situated behind the living-room on the left, with low green glass 
windows, rafters and woodwork smoke-browned with the fires of 
a dozen generations. In the wooden racks over by the chimney 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. D hung 

52 Poor Cousin Louis 

hung flitches of home-cured bacon, and the kettle was suspended 
by three chains over the centre of the wide hearth, where glowed 
and crackled an armful of sticks. So dark was the room, in spite 
of the daylight outside, that two candles were set in the centre of 
the table, enclosing in their circles of yellow light the pale face 
and silver hair of the housekeeper, and Tourtel s rugged head and 
weather-beaten countenance. 

He had glasses ready, and a bottle of the cheap brandy for 
which the Island is famous. "You ll take a drop of something, 
eh, Doctor ? " he said as Owen seated himself on the jonciere, 
a padded settle green baize covered, to replace the primitive 
rushes fitted on one side of the hearth. He stretched his long 
legs into the light, and for a moment considered moodily the old 
gaiters and cobbled boots. " You ve seen to the horse ? " he 
asked Tourtel. 

" My cert nly ; he s in de stable dis hour back, an I ve 
given him a feed. I tought maybe you d make a night of 
it ? " 

" I may as well for all the work I have to do," said Owen 
with sourness ; " a damned little Island this for doctors. No 
thing ever the matter with any one except the creeps, and 
those who have it spend their last penny in making it worse." 

"Dere s as much illness here as anywhere," said Tourtel, 
defending the reputation of his native soil, " if once you gets 
among de right class, among de people as has de time an de 
money to make dereselves ill. But if you go foolin roun wid de 
paysans, what can you expec ? We workin folks can t afford to 
lay up an buy ourselves doctors stuff." 

" And how am I to get among the right class ? " retorted Owen, 
sucking the ends of his moustache into his mouth and chewing 
them savagely. " A more confounded set of stuck-up, beggarly 


By Ella D Arcy 53 

aristocrats I never met than your people here." His discon 
tented eye rested on Mrs. Tourtel. " That Mrs. Pedvinn is the 
wife of Pedvinn the Jurat, I suppose?" "Yes, de Pedvinns 
of Rohais." "Good people," said Owen thoughtfully ; in with 
the de Caterelles, and the Dadderney (d Aldenois) set. Are 
there children ? " " Tree." 

He took a drink of the spirit and water ; his bad temper passed. 
Margot came in from upstairs. 

" De marster sleeps as dough he d never wake again," she 
announced, flinging herself into the chair nearest Owen. 

" It s bout time he did," Tourtel growled. 

" I should have thought it more to your interest to keep him 
alive ? " Owen inquired. " A good place, surely ? " 

"A good place if you like to call it so," the wife answered him ; 
" but what, if he go to town, as he say to-night ? and what, if he 
send de notary, to put de scelles here ? den he take up again wid 
Dr. Lclever, dat s certain." And Tourtel added in his surly key, 
" Anyway, I ve been workin here dese tirty years now, an dat s 
bout enough." 

" In fact, when the orange is sucked, you throw away the peel ? 
But are you quite sure it is sucked dry ? " 

"De house an de Ian go to de Pedvinns, an all de money die 
too, for de little he had left when young John went crost de seas, 
he sunk in a nuity. Dere s nuddin but de lining, an plate, an 
such like, as goes to de son." 

" And what he finds of that, I expect, will scarcely add to his 
impedimenta ? " said Owen grinning. He thought, " The old man 
is well known in the island, the name of his medical attendant 
would get mentioned in the papers at least ; just as well Le 
Lievre should not have the advertisement." Besides, there were 
the Poidevins. 


54 Poor Cousin Louis 

" You might say a good word for me to Mrs. Pedvinn," he 
said aloud, " I live nearer to Rohais than Lelever does, and 
with young children she might be glad to have some one at 

" You may be sure you won t never find me ungrateful, sir," 
answered the housekeeper ; and Owen, shading his eyes with his 
hand, sat pondering over the use of this word " ungrateful," with 
its faint yet perceptible emphasis. 

Margot, meanwhile, laid the supper ; the remains of a rabbit- 
pie, a big "pinclos" or spider crab, with thin, red knotted legs, 
spreading far over the edges of the dish, the apple-goche, hot from 
the oven, cider, and the now half-empty bottle of brandy. The 
lour sat down and fell to. Margot was in boisterous spirits ; 
everything she said or did was meant to attract Owen s attention. 
Her cheeks flamed with excitement ; she wanted his eyes to be 
perpetually upon her. But Owen s interest in her had long 
ceased. To-night, while eating heartily, he was absorbed in his 
ruling passion : to get on in the world, to make money, to be 
admitted into Island society. Behind the pallid, impenetrable 
mask, which always enraged yet intimidated Margot, he plotted 
incessantly, schemed, combined, weighed this and that, studied his 
prospects from every point of view. 

Supper over, he lighted his meerschaum ; Tourtel produced a 
short clay, and the bottle was passed between them. The women 
left them together, and for ten, twenty minutes, there was com 
plete silence in the room. Tourtel let his pipe go out, and rapped 
it down brusquely upon the table. 

"It must come to an end," he said, with suppressed ferocity ; 
" are we eider to spen de whole of our lives here, or else be turned 
off at de eleventh hour after sufferin all de heat an burden of de 
day ? Its onreasonable. An dere s de cottage at Cottu standin 


By Ella D Arcy 55 

empty, an me havin to pay a man to look after de tomato 
houses, when I could get fifty per cent, more by look! n after dem 
myself. .... An what profit is such a sickly, shiftless life as dat ? 
My good ! dere s not a man, woman, or chile in de Islan s as will 
shed a tear when he goes, an dere s some, 1 tells you, as have 
suffered from his whimsies dese tirty years, as will rejoice. Why, 
his wife was dead already when we come here, an his on y son, a 
dirty, drunken, lazy vaurien too, has never been near him for 
fifteen years, nor written neider. Dead most likely, in foreign 

parts An what s he want to stay for, contraryin an thwartin 

dem as have sweated an laboured, an now, please de good God, 
wan s to sit neath de shadow of dere own fig-tree for de short 
time dat remains to dem ? . . . . An what do we get for stayin ? 
Forty pound, Island money, between de two of us, an de little I 
makes from de flowers, an poultry, an such like. An what do 
we do for it ? Bake, an wash, an clean, an cook, an keep de 

garden in order, an nuss him in all his tantrums If we 

was even on his testament, I d say nuddin. But everything 
goes to Pedvinns, an de son John, and de little bit of income 
dies wid him. I tell you tis bout time dis came to an end. 

Owen recognised that Destiny asked no sin more heinous from 
him than silence, perhaps concealment ; the chestnuts would 
reach him without risk of burning his hand. "It s time," said he, 
" I thought of going home. Get your lantern, and I ll help you 
with the trap. But first, I ll just run up and have another look 
at Mr. Rennuf." 

For the last time the five personages of this obscure little tragedy 
found themselves together in the bedroom, now lighted by a small 
lamp which stood on the wash-hand-stand. Owen, who had 
to stoop to enter the door, could have touched the low-pitched 
ceiling with his hand. The bed, with its slender pillars, support 

56 Poor Cousin Louis 

ing a canopy of faded damask, took up the greater part of the 
room. There was a fluted headpiece of the damask, and long 
curtains of the same material, looped up, on either side of the 
pillows. Sunken in these lay the head of the old man, crowned 
with a cotton nightcap, the eyes closed, the skin drawn tight over 
the skull, the outline of the attenuated form indistinguishable 
beneath the clothes. The arms lay outside the counterpane, 
straight down on either side ; and the mechanical playing move 
ment of the fingers showed he was not asleep. Margot and Mrs. 
Tourtcl watched him from the bed s foot. Their gigantic 
shadows thrown forward by the lamp, stretched up the opposite 
wall, and covered half the ceiling. The old-fashioned mahogany 
furniture, with its fillets of paler wood, drawn in ovals, upon the 
doors of the presses, their centrepieces of fruit and flowers, 
shone out here and there with reflected light ; and the looking- 
glass, swung on corkscrew mahogany pillars between the damask 
window curtains, gleamed lake-like amidst the gloom. 

Owen and Tourtel joined the women at the bedfoot ; though 
each was absorbed entirely in his own egotisms, all were animated 
by the same secret desire. Yet, to the feeling heart, there was 
something unspeakably pleading in the sight of the old man 
lying there, in his helplessness, in the very room, on the very bed, 
which had seen his wedding-night fifty years before ; where as 
a much-wished-for and welcomed infant, he had opened his eyes 
to the light more than seventy years since. He had been helpless 
then as now, but then the child had been held to loving hearts, 
loving fingers had tended him, a young and loving mother lay 
beside him, the circumference of all his tiny world, as he was the 
core and centre of all of hers. And from being that exquisite, 
well-beloved little child, he had passed thoughtlessly, hopefully, 
despairfully, wearily, through all the stages of life, until he had 


By Ella D Arcy 57 

come to this a poor, old, feeble, helpless, worn-out man, lying 
there where he had been born, but with all those who had loved 
him carried long ago to the grave : with the few who might 
have protected him still, his son, his cousin, his old friend Le 
Lievre, as powerless to save him as the silent dead. 

Renouf opened his eyes, looked in turn at the four faces before 
him, and read as much pity in them as in masks of stone. He 
turned himself to the pillow again and to his miserable thoughts. 

Owen took out his watch, went round to count the pulse, and 
in the hush the tick of the big silver timepiece could be heard. 

" There is extreme weakness," came his quiet verdict. 

"Sinking?" whispered Tourtel loudly. 

" No ; care and constant nourishment are all that are required ; 
strong beef-tea, port wine jelly, cream beaten up with a little 
brandy at short intervals, every hour say. And of course no 
excitement ; nothing to irritate, or alarm him " (Owen s eye 
met Margot s) ; " absolute quiet and rest." He came back to the 
foot of the bed and spoke in a lower tone. " It s just one of 
the usual cases of senile decay," said he, " which I observe every 
one comes to here in the Islands (unless he has previously killed 
himself by drink), the results of breeding in. But Mr. Rennuf 
may last months, years longer. In fact, if you follow out my 
directions there is every probability that he will." 

Tourtel and his wife shifted their gaze from Owen to look into 
each other s eyes ; Margot s loose mouth lapsed into a smile. 
Owen felt cold water running down his back. The atmosphere 
of the room seemed to stifle him ; reminiscences of his student 
days crowded on him : the horror of an unperverted mind, at its 
first spectacle of cruelty, again seized hold of him, as though no 
twelve callous years were wedged in between. At all costs he 
must get out into the open air. 


58 Poor Cousin Louis 

He turned to go. Louis Renouf opened his eyes, followed the 
form making its way to the door, and understood. " You won t 
leave me, doctor ? surely you won t leave me ? " came the last 
words of piercing entreaty. 

The man felt his nerve going all to pieces. 

"Come, come, my good sir, do you think I am going to stay 

here all night ? " he answered brutally Outside the door, 

Tourtel touched his sleeve. " And suppose your directions are 
not carried out ? " said he in his thick whisper. 

Owen gave no spoken answer, but Tourtel was satisfied. 
" I ll come an put the horse in," he said, leading the way through 
the kitchen to the stables. Owen drove off with a parting curse 
and cut with the whip because the horse slipped upon the stones. 
A long ray of light from Tourtel s lantern followed him down 
the lane. When he turned out on to the high road to St. Gilles, 
he reined in a moment, to look back at Les Calais. This is the 
one point from which a portion of the house is visible, and he 
could see the lighted window of the old man s bedroom plainly 
through the trees. 

What was happening there ? he asked himself; and the Tour 
tel s cupidity and callousness, Margot s coarse cruel tricks, rose 
before him with appalling distinctness. Yet the price was in his 
hand, the first step of the ladder gained ; he saw himself to-morrow, 
perhaps in the drawing-room of Rohais, paying the necessary visit 
of intimation and condolence. He felt he had already won 
Mrs. Poidevin s favour. Among women, always poor physiogno 
mists, he knew he passed for a handsome man ; among the 
Islanders, the assurance of his address would pass for good 
breeding ; all he had lacked hitherto was the opportunity to 
shine. This his acquaintance with Mrs. Poidevin would secure 
him. And he had trampled on his conscience so often before, it 


By Ella D Arcy 59 

had now little elasticity left. Just an extra glass of brandy to 
morrow, and to-day would be as securely laid as those other epi 
sodes of his past. 

While he watched, some one shifted the lamp .... a woman s 
shadow was thrown upon the white blind .... it wavered, 
grew monstrous, and spread, until the whole window was shrouded 

in gloom Owen put the horse into a gallop .... and 

from up at Les Calais, the long-drawn melancholy howling of 
the dog filled with forebodings the silent night. 

The Lamplighter 

By A. S. Hartrick 

The Composer of t Carmen 

By Charles Willeby 

WHAT little has been written about poor Bizet is not the 
sort to satisfy. The men who have told of him cannot 
have written with their best pen. Even those who, one can see, 
have started well, albeit impelled rather than inspired by a profound 
admiration for the artist and the man, have fallen all too short of 
the mark, and ultimately drifted into the dullest of all dull things 
the compilation of mere dates and doings. I know of no pamphlet 
devoted to him in this country. He was much misunderstood 
in life ; he has been, I think, as much sinned against in death. 
The symbol of posthumous appreciation which asserts itself to the 
visitor to Pere Lachaise, is exponential of compliment only when 
reckoned by avoirdupois. Neglected in life, they have in death 
weighed him down with an edifice that would have been obnoxious 
to every instinct in his sprightly soul a memorial befitting per 
haps to such an one as Johannes Brahms, but repugnant as a 
memento of the spirit that created " Carmen." It is an emblem 
of French formalism in its most determined aspect. And in 
truth asSainte-Beuve said of the Abbe" Galiani " they owed to 
him an honourable, choice, and purely delicate burial ; urna brevis, 
a little urn which should not be larger than he." The previous 
inappreciation of his genius has given place to posthumous lauda 

64 The Composer of " Carmen 

tion, zealous indeed, but so indiscriminating as to be vulgar. Like 
many another man, he had to take " a thrashing from life " ; and 
although he stood up to it unflinchingly, it was only in his death 
certificate that he acquired passport to fame. 

Just eighteen years before it was that Bizet had written from 
Rome : " We are indeed sad, for there come to us the tidings of 
the death of Ldon Benouville. Really, one works oneself half 
crazy to gain this Prix de Rome ; then comes the huge struggle 
for position ; and after all, perchance to end by dying at thirty- 
eight ! Truly, the picture is the reverse of encouraging." Here 
was his own destiny, nit comine la main, save that the fates be 
grudged him even the thirty-eight years of his brother artist- 
called him when he could not but 

The petty done the undone vast." 

But his early life was not unhappy. He had no pitiful struggle 
with poverty in childhood, at all events. Some tell us he was pre 
cocious terribly so ; but I had rather take my cue from his own 
words, " Je ne me suis donndqu a contre-cceurala musique," than 
dwell upon his precocity, real or fictional. It was only heredi 
tarily consistent that he should have a musical organisation. His 
father was a teacher of music, not without repute ; his mother 
was a sister of Franfois Delsarte, who, although unknown to 
Grove, has two columns and more devoted to him by Fetis, by 
whom he is described as an "artiste un peu Strange, quoique d un 
meVite incontestable, doud de faculty s tres diverses et de toutes les 
qualitds necessaires a 1 enseignement." What there was of music in 
their son the parents sought to encourage assiduously, and Bizet 
himself has shown us in his work, more clearly than aught else 
could, that the true dramatic sense was innate in him. And that 


By Charles Willeby 65 

he loved his literature too, was well proved by a glance at the 
little appartement in the Rue de Douai, which he continued to 
occupy until well-nigh the end. 

In 1849 he was just over his tenth year Delsarte took him 
to Marmontel of the Conservatoire. " Without being in any 
sense of the word a prodigy," says the old pianoforte master, " he 
played his Mozart with an unusual amount of taste. From the 
moment I heard him I recognised his individuality, and I made it my 
object to preserve it." Then Zimmerman, with whom Fenseigne- 
ment was a disease, heard of him and sought him for pupil. But 
Zimmerman seems to have tired of him as he tired of so many 
and ended by passing him on to Gounod. From entry to exit 
an interval of eight years Bizet s academic career was a series of 
premiers et deuxiemes prix. They were to him but so many stepping- 
stones to the coveted Grand Prix de Rome. He longed to secure 
this to fly the crowded town and seek the secluded shelter of 
the Villa Medici. And in the end he had his way. In effect, he 
commenced to live only after he had taken up his abode on the 
little Pincian Hill. Even there life was a trifle close to him, and 
some time passed before he really fixed his focus. 

In Italy, more than in any other part of the world, the life of 
the present rests upon the strata of successive past lives. And 
although Bizet was no student, carrying in his knapsack a super 
fluity of culture, this place appealed to him from the moment that 
he came to it, and the memory of it lingered long in after days. 

The villa itself was a revelation to him. The masterpiece of 
Renaissance facade over which the artist would seem to have 
exhausted a veritable mine of Greek and Roman bas-reliefs ; the 
garden with its lawns surrounded by hedges breast-high, trimmed 
to the evenness of a stone-wall ; the green alleys overshadowed by 
ilex trees ; the marble statues looking forlornly regretful at Time s 


66 The Composer of " Carmen 

defacing treatment ; the terrace with its oaks gnarled and twisted 
with age ; the fountains ; the roses ; the flower-beds ; and in the 
distance, " over the dumb Campagna-sea," the hills melting into 
light under the evening sky all these made an intaglio upon him 
such as was not readily to be effaced, and which he learned to love. 
Perhaps because, after all, Italy is even more the land of beauty 
than of what is venerable in art, he did not feel the want of what 
Mr. Symonds calls the " mythopceic sense." It is a land ever 
young, in spite of age. Its monuments, assertive as they are, so 
blend with the landscape, are so in harmony with the surroundings, 
that the yawning gulf of years that would separate us from them 
is made to vanish, and they come to live with us. 

And the place was teeming with tradition. From the time, 
1540, when it had been designed by Hannibal Lippi for Cardinal 
Ricci, passing thence into the hands of Alexandro de Medici, 
and later into those of Leo XL, it had been the home of art ; and 
then, on its acquisition by the French Academy in 1804, it be 
came the home of artists. Here had lived and worked and dreamed 
David, Ingres, Delaroche, Vernet, He rold, Benoist, Halevy, 
Berlioz, Thomas, Gounod, and the minor host of them. In truth 
the list awed Bizet not a little, and had he needed an incentive 
here it was. For the rest, he was supremely content. As a pen- 
sionnaire of the Academy he had two hundred francs a month, and 
he apportioned them in this wise : Nourriture, 7$fr. ; vin y 25fr. ; 
retenue, 25 fr. ; location de piano, I$h. ; blanchissage, 5fr. ; bois, 
chandelles, timbre-poste, ffc., iofr. ; gants y 5fr. ; perte sur le change 
de la monnaie^ 5fr. Even then he wrote : " I have more than 
thirty francs pour fair e le grand garfon." In another letter he says : 
" I seem to cling to Rome more than ever. The longer I know 
it, the more I love it. Everything is so beautiful. Each street- 
even the filthiest of them has its own charm for me. And perhaps 


By Charles Willeby 67 

what is most astonishing of all, is that those very things which 
startled me most on my arrival, have now become a part of and 
necessary to my very existence the madonnas with their little 
lamps at every corner ; the linen hanging out to dry from the 
windows ; the very refuse of the streets ; the beggars all these 
things really divert me, and I should cry out if so much as a 

dung-heap were removed More too, every day, do I pity 

those imbeciles who have not been more fully able to appreciate 
their good fortune in being pensionnaires of the Academy. But 
then one cannot help observing that they are the very ones who 
have achieved nothing. Halevy, Thomas, Gounod, Berlioz, 
Massd they all loved and adored their Rome." 

Then on the last day of the same year : "I seem to incline 
more definitely towards the theatre, for I feel a certain sense of 
drama, which, if I possessed it, I knew not of till now. So I 
hope for the best. But that is not all. Hitherto I have vacillated 
between Mozart and Beethoven, between Rossini and Meyerbeer, 
and suddenly I know upon what, upon whom to fix my faith. 
To me there are two distinct kinds of genius : the inspirational 
and the purely rational, I mean the genius of nature and the 
genius of erudition ; and whilst I have an immense admiration for 
the second, I cannot deny that the first has all my sympathies. 
So, man cher, I have the courage to prefer, and to say I prefer, 
Raphael to Michael Angelo, Mozart to Beethoven, Rossini to 
Meyerbeer, which is, I suppose, much the same as saying that if 
I had heard Rubini I would have preferred him to Duprez. Do 
not think for a moment that I place one above the other that 
would be absurd. All I maintain is that the matter is one of 
taste, and that the one exercises upon my nature a stronger 
influence than does the other. When I hear the Symphonic 
H6rol que, or the fourth act of the Huguenots, I am spell 

68 The Composer of " Carmen >: 

bound, aghast as it were ; I have not eyes, ears, intelligence, 
enough even to admire. But when I see L Ecole D Athenes, 
or La Vierge de Foligno, when I hear Les Noces de Figaro, 
or the second act of Guillaume Tell, I am completely happy; 
I experience a sense of comfort, a complete satisfaction : in effect, 
I forget everything." 

This, then, is what Rome did for Bizet ; hut, be it said, for 
Bizet tres jeune encore. For a time the result is patent in his 
work, but afterwards there comes, although no revulsion, a distinct 
variation of feeling, which has in it something of compromise. 
The genius innate in him was inspirational before it was if it 
ever was erudite. Even in his later days there was for him no 
cowering before his culture. In 1867 ne wr te in the Revue 
Natlonale the only critique, by the way, he ever wrote under 
the pseudonym of Gaston de Betzi : " The artist has no name, 
no nationality. He is inspired or he is not. He has genius or he 
has not. If he has, we welcome him ; if he has not, we can at 
most respect him, if we do not pity and forget him." 

He was the same in all things : " I have no comrades," he said, 
"only friends." And there is one sentence that he wrote from 
Rome that might well be held up to the gamins of the French 
Conservatoire. " Je ne veux rien faire de chic ; je veux avoir des 
idles avant de commencer un morceau." 

In August of his second year Bizet left Rome on a visit to 
Naples. He carried a letter to Mercadente. On his return good 
news and bad awaited him. Ernest Guiraud, his good friend and 
quondam fellow-student in the class of Marmontel, has just been 
proclaimed Prix de Rome. And this at the very moment Bizet 
was to leave the Villa ; for the Academy would have it that their 
musical pensionnaires should pass the third year in Germany. 
The prospect was entirely repugnant to Bizet. So he went to 


By Charles Willeby 69 

work against it, directing his energies in the first place against 
Schnetz, " the dear old director " as they called him. Schnetz, 
owning to a soft spot for his young pendonnaire, was overcome, and 
through him I fancy the powers that were in Paris. However, 
Bizet was permitted to remain in his beloved Rome. Delighted, 
he wrote off to Marmontel : " I am daily expecting Guiraud, and 
words cannot express how glad I shall be to see him. Would you 
believe it, it is two years since I have spoken with an intelligent 
musician ? My colleague Z bores me frightfully. He speaks 
to me of Donizetti, of Fesca even, and I reply to him with 
Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Gounod." 

This last year spent with Guiraud was perhaps the happiest of 
his life. At the close of it the two set off together on a ramble 
through the land, with fancy for their only guide. They had got 
so far as Venice when news of his mother s dangerous illness 
called Bizet to her side. He arrived in time to say farewell, and 
he never returned to Italy. 

Of work done at the Villa, " Vasco de Gama" is the only 
tangible sample ; " but I have not wasted my time," he wrote, 
"I have read a good many volumes of history, and ever so much 
more literature of all kinds. I have travelled, I have learned 
something of the history of art, and I really am a bit of a 
connoisseur in painting and sculpture. All I want now, on my 
return, are trois jolts actes for the Theatre Lyrique." 

And shortly we find him in full swing with " Les Pe"cheurs des 
Perles." It was produced on the 30th September of 1863, and 
had some eighteen representations. " La Jolie Fille de Perth," 
which followed it four years later, had, I think, twenty-one. In 
between these two works, we are told, Bizet, in a fit of violent 
admiration for Verdi, strove to emulate him in an opera entitled 
"Ivan le Terrible." It is said to have been completed and 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. E handed 

70 The Composer of " Carmen 

handed to the management of the Theatre Lyrique. Then 
Bizet, recognising as suddenly that he had made a mistake, with 
drew the score and burned it. 

M. Charles Pigot, who is chiefly responsible for this story, 
goes on to say that the libretto was the work of MM. Louis 
Gallet and Edouard Blau. But in that he is not correct, for 
Gallet himself tells us that he knew Bizet only ever so slightly at 
the time, and that neither to him nor to Blau is due a single line 
of this "Ivan." 

Then there were " Griselidis," of which, in a letter dated 
February of 1871, Bizet speaks as trh avancte; " Clarisse 
Harlowe " ; and the " Calendal " of M. Sardou, to each of which 
he referred in the same year as a pcine commence. There was also 
an opera in one act written by M. Carvalho, and actually put 
into rehearsal at the Opra Comique. But none of these saw the 
light, and I have little doubt they all met their fate on a certain 
eventful day, shortly before he died, when Bizet remorselessly 
destroyed a whole pile of manuscript. And in truth these early 
works had little value of themselves. They were but so many 
rungs of the ladder by which he climbed to the heights of 
" Djamileh," of " L Arle sienne," and of" Carmen." No musician 
ever took longer to know himself than did Georges Bizet. His 
period of hesitation, of vacillation, was unduly protracted. For 
why, it is hard to tell ; but one cannot help feeling that the 
terrible lutte pour la vie had a deal to do with it. Those early 
years in Paris were very hard ones. " Believe me," he wrote from 
le Vesinet (always a favourite spot with him), " believe me, it is 
exasperating to have one s work interrupted for days to write 
so/os de piston. But what would you ? I must live. I have just 
rushed off at a gallop half-a-dozen melodies for Heugel. I trust 
you may like them. At least I have carefully chosen the verses. 


By Charles Willeby 71 

.... My opera and my symphony are both of them en train. But 
when, oh when, shall I finish them ? Yet I do nothing but work, 
and I come only once a week to Paris. Here I am well out of 
the way of all flaneurs, raseurs^ diseurs de riens, du monde en/in, 
helas" Then a few days later : "I am completely prostrate with 
fatigue. I can do nothing. I have even been obliged to give up 
orchestrating my symphony ; and now I feel it will be too late for 
this winter. I am going to lie down, for I have not slept for 
three nights, and all seems so dark to me. To-morrow, too, I 
have la musique gale to write." 

Just then time was pressing him hard. He was under con 
tract to produce " La Jolie Fille de Perth " by the end of the 
year, and he was already well into October. It became a matter 
of fifteen and sixteen hours work a day ; for there were lessons to 
be given, proofs to be corrected, piano transcriptions to be made, 
and the rest. And, truth to tell, he was terribly lacking in 
method. He was choke-full of ideas, he was indeed borne along 
by a very torrent of them ; and if only he could have stopped to 
collect himself it would have been well for him. But no ; before 
he realised it, " La Jolie Fille " was finished and in rehearsal. 
Then for the time he was able to put enough distance between 
himself and his work to value it. And it seems to have pleased 
him. " The final rehearsal," he writes to Galabert (by this time 
his confidant in most things), " has produced a great effect. The 
piece is really highly interesting, the interpretation is excellent, 
and the costumes are splendid. The scenery is new and the 
orchestra and the artists are full of enthusiasm. But more than 
all this, cher ami, the score of La Jolie Fille is une bonne chose. 
The orchestra lends to all a colour and relief for which, I confess, 
I never dared to hope. I think I have arrived this time. Now, 
ilfaut monter, monter, monter, toujours." 


72 The Composer of " Carmen " 

Shortly after this he married Genevieve Halevy, the daughter of 
the composer of " La Juive," and lived almost exclusively at le 
Ve"sinet. There, at 8, Rue des Cultures, a rustic place enough? 
one might find Georges Bizet, seated in his favourite corner of the 
lovely garden, en chapeau de canotier, smoking his pipe and chatting 
to his friends. It had been the home of Jacques HaleVy, and 
Bizet had been wont to do his courting there. Now the old man 
was no more, and in the long summer days, the daughter and the 
son for Halevy had been as a father to Bizet missed sorely the 
familiar figure hard at work with rake or hoe at his beloved flower 
beds. They were the passion of his later days, and they well repaid 
his care. Even in the middle of a lesson and he taught up to well- 
nigh the last weeks of his life would he rush out to uproot a 
noxious weed that might chance to catch his eye. " How well I 
remember my first day there," says Louis Gallet. " The war 
was not long finished, and the traces of it were with us yet. 
True, Paris had resumed her lovely girdle of green ; but beneath 
this verdure reflected in the tardy waters of the Seine, there was 
enough still to tell the terrible tale of ruin. One could not go to 
Pecq or le Vsinet without some difficulty. Bizet, to save me 
trouble, had taken care to meet me at Rueil, whence we made for 
the little place where he was staying for the summer. The day 
was lovely, and Djamileh made great strides as we talked and 
paced the pretty garden walks. This habit of discussing while 
walking, what was uppermost in his mind, was always, to me, a 
powerful characteristic of Georges Bizet. I do not remember 
any important discussion between us that did not take place 
during a stroll, or at all events whilst walking, if only to and from 
his study. We talked long that afternoon of the influence of 
Wagner on the future of musical art, of the reception in store for 
Djamileh, both by the public and by the Ope"ra Comique itself. 


By Charles Willeby 73 

This latter, indeed, was no light matter. The Direction was 
then undertaken by two parties : that of Du Locle, tending 
towards advancement in every form ; that of De Leuven, clinging 
with all the force of tradition to the past. 

"Then in the evening nothing would do but Bizet should see 
me well on my way to Paris. The bridges were not yet restored. 
So we set off on foot, in company with Madame Bizet, to find 
the ferry-boat. How delicious was that walk by the little islets in 
the cool of the twilight ; along the towing-path so narrow and 
overrun with growth that we were obliged to proceed in Indian 
file. And how merry we were, until perchance we stumbled on 
the fragment of a shell lying hidden in the grass, or came face to 
face with some majestic tree, still smarting from its wounds, 
when there would rise before us in all its vividness the terrible 
scene so recently enacted on that spot. Then we talked of the 
war and all its sorrows ; and we tried to descry there on the 
right, in the shade of Mount Valerien, the spot where Henri 
Regnault fell. 

" At length we found the ferry, and reached the other bank. 
There at the end of the path we could see the lights of the 
station; so we separated. And although I made many after 
visits, none remained so firmly fixed in my memory, or left me 
so happy an impression as did this, my first to Bizet s summer 

During the siege itself, he had been forced to remain in Paris. 
But it was much against his will, and he seems to have chafed 
sorely at it. Yet it is difficult to picture Bizet bellicose. "Dear 
friend," he writes to Guiraud, who was stationed at some outpost, 
" the description you give of the palace you are living in makes 
us all believe that luck is with you. But every day we think of 
the cold, the damp, the ice, the Prussians, and all the other 


74 The Composer of " Carmen " 

horrors that surround you. As for me, I continue to reproach 
myself with my inaction, for in truth my conscience is anything 
but at rest ; but you know well what keeps me here. We really 
cannot be said to eat any longer. Suzanne has just brought in 
some horse bones, which I believe are to form our meal. Gene- 
vieve dreams nightly of chickens and lobsters." 

Not till the following year, during the days of the Commune, 
do we find him at le Vdsinet. Then he writes (also to Guiraud): 
" Here we are without half our things, without our books, with 
out anything in fact, and absolutely there are no means of getting 

into Paris So, dear friend, if you have any news, do, I 

pray you, let us have it. I read the Versailles papers, but they 
tell their wretched readers (and expect them to believe it) that 
France is trcs tranquille, Paris alone excepted (sic). The day 
before yesterday was anything but tranquil. For twelve hours 

there was nothing but a continuous cannonade But we 

are safe enough, for although the Prussian patrols continue to 
increase in number we are not inconvenienced by them, and they 
will not, in all probability, occupy le Vdsinet. But it seems quite 
impossible to say how all this is going to end. I am absolutely 
discouraged, and what is more, I fear, dear friend, there is worse 
trouble ahead of us. I am off now to the village to look at a 
piano ; I must work and try to forget it all." 

He finished "Djamileh" at le Vesinet. It was produced at the 
Opdra Comique in May of 1872. Gallet tells us that he did not 
write the book specially for Bizet. Under the title of " Na- 
mouna," it had been given by M. du Locle to Jules Duprato, a 
musician and a " prix de Rome." But Duprato paressait agre- 
ablement, and never got much further with it than the compo 
sition of a certain air de danse to the verses commencing : 
" Indolente, grave et lente," which are to be found also in Bizet s 


By Charles Willeby 75 

score. Then there came a time when the Opera Comique, truly 
one of the most good-natured of institutions in its own peculiar 
way, so far belied its reputation as to tire of this idling on the 
part of M. Duprato. So the work passed on to Bizet. He 
suggested change of title, and " Namouna " became " Djamileh." 
But it remained nevertheless the poem of Musset. 

"Je vous dirais qu Hassan racheta Namouna 


Qu on reconnut trop tard cette tete adoree 

Et cette douce nuit qu elle avait espcree 

Que pour prix de ses maux le ciel la lui donna. 

Je vous dirais surtout qu Hassan dans cette affaire 
Sentit que tot ou tard la femme avait son tour 
Et que 1 amour de soi ne vaut pas 1 autre amour." 

There you have the whole story. It is but an c tat fame a little 
love scene, simple enough in a way, yet so delicate and so full of 
colour. It was a matter of "atmosphere," not of structure, a 
masterpiece of style rather than of situation ; and from its first 
rehearsal as an opera it was doomed. In truth, these rehearsals 
were amusing. There was old Avocat they used to call him 
Victor the typical rlgisseur of tradition; a man who could tell 
of the premises of " Pre-aux-Clercs " and " La Dame Blanche," 
and, what is more, expected to be asked to tell of them. From his 
corner in the wings he listened to the music of this " Djamileh," 
his face expressive of a pity far too keen for words. But it was a 
matter of minutes only before his pity turned to rage, and eventu 
ally he stumped off to his sanctum, banging his door behind him 
with a vehemence that augured badly for poor Bizet. As for 
De Leuven, his co-director : had he not written " Postilion de 

Lonjumeau" ? 

76 The Composer of " Carmen 

Lonjumeau"? and was it not the most successful work of 
Boiledieu s successor? The fact had altered his whole life. 
Ever after, all he sought in opera was some similarity with 
Le Postilion. And there was nothing of Adam in this music, 
still less anything of De Leuven in the poem. That was sufficient 
for him. "Allons," said he one day to Gallet, who arrived at 
rehearsal just as Djamileh was about to sing her laments : 
"aliens, vous arrivez pour le De Profundis." 

As for the public, they understood it not at all, this charming 
miniature. " C est indigne," cried one; " c est odieux," from 
another; "c est tres drole," said a third. " Quelle cacophonie, 
quelle audace, c est se moquer du monde. Voila, ou inene le culte 
de Wagner a la folie. Ni tonalite, ni mesure, ni rythme ; ce 
n est plus de la musique," and the rest. The press itself was 
no better, no whit more rational. Yet this " Djamileh " was 
rich in premonition of those very qualities that go to make 
" Carmen " the immortal work it is. It so glows with true 
Oriental colour, is so saturate with the true Eastern spirit, as to 
make us wonder for the moment as did Mr. Henry James about 
Theophile Gautier whether the natural attitude of the man was 
not to recline in the perfumed dusk of a Turkish divan, puffing a 
chibouque. Here the tints are stronger, mellower, and more 
carefully laid on than in " Les Pecheurs des Perles." There is, 
too, all the bizarrerie, as well as all the sensuousness of the East. 
Yet there is no obliteration of the human element for sake of the 
picturesque. Wagnerism was the cry raised against it on all 
sides ; yet, if it be anything but Bizet, it is surely Schumann. It 
was, in effect, all too good for the public too fine for their vulgar 
gaze, their indiscriminating comment. And Reyer, farseeing 
amongst his fellows, spoke truth when he said in the Debats : 
" I feel sure that if M. Bizet knows that his work has been 


By Charles Willeby 77 

appreciated by a small number of musicians being cognoscenti 
he will be more proud of that fact than he would be of a popular 
success. Djamileh, whatever be its fortunes, heralds a new 
epoch in the career of this young master." 

Then came " L Arlesienne," as all the world knows, a dismal 
failure enough. It was to Bizet a true labour of love. From the 
day that Carvalho came to him proposing that he should add 
des melodrames to this tale of fair Provence, to the day of its 
production some four months later, he was absorbed in it. The 
score as it now stands represents about half the music that he 
wrote. The prelude to the third act of " Carmen," and the 
chorus, " Quant aux douaniers," both belonged originally to 
" L Arldsienne." The rest was blue pencilled at rehearsal. And 
of all the care he lavished on it, perhaps the finest, certainly the 
fondest, was given to his orchestra. Every instrument is minis 
tered to with loving care. Luckily for him, fortunately too for 
us, he knew not then what sort of lot awaited this scrupulous score 
of his. He knew he wrote for Carvalho for the Vaudeville ; but 
that was all. And they gave him twenty-five musicians a 
couple of flutes and an oboe (this latter to do duty too for the 
cor-anglais) ; one clarinet, a couple of bassoons, a saxophone, two 
horns, a kettle-drum, seven violins, one solitary alto, five celli, 
two bass, and his choice of one other. The poor fellow chose a 
piano ; but they never saw the irony of it. All credit to his little 
band, they did their best. But the most that they could do was to 
cull the tunes from out his score. The consolation that we have 
is, that, so far as the piece as a piece is concerned, no orchestra 
in the world could have saved it. It was doomed to failure for all 
sorts of reasons. Daudet himself goes very near the mark when 
he says that " it was unreasonable to suppose that in the middle of 
the boulevard, in that coquettish corner of the Chausee d Antin, 


78 The Composer of " Carmen 

right in the pathway of the fashions, the whims of the hour, 
the flashing and changing vortex of all Paris, people could be 
interested in this drama of love taking place in the farmyard in 
the plain of Camargue, full of the odour of well-plenished granaries 
and lavender in flower. It was a splendid failure ; clothed in the 
prettiest music possible, with costumes of silk and velvet in the 
centre of comic opera scenery." Then he goes on to tell us : " I 
came away discouraged and sickened, the silly laughter with which 
the emotional scenes were greeted still ringing in my ears ; and 
without attempting to defend myself in the papers, where on all 
sides the attack was led against this play, wanting in surprises 
this painting in three acts of manners and events of which I alone 
could appreciate the absolute fidelity. I resolved to write no 
more plays, and heaped one upon the other all the hostile notices 
as a rampart around my determination." 

At this time Bizet seems to have come a good deal into contact 
with Jean Baptiste Faure. They met frequently at the Opera. 
" You really must do something more for Bizet," said the baritone 
to Louis Gallet. " Put your heads together, you and Blau, and 
write something that shall be blen pour moi" " Lorenzaccio," 
perhaps the strongest of De Musset s dramatic efforts, first came 
up. But Faure was not at all in touch with it. The role of 
Brutus fawning Judas that he is revolted him. He had no 
fancy to distort as menteur a triple hage ; so the subject was put 
by. Then came Bizet one morning with an old issue of Le 
Journal pour tous in his pocket. " Here is the very thing for 
us : Le Jeunesse du Cid of Guilhem de Castro ; not, mark 
you, the Cid of Corneille alone, but the inceptive Cid in all the 
glory of its pristine colour the Cid, Don Rodrigue de Bivar, in 
the words of Sainte-Beuve the immortal flower of honour and of 
love. The seine du mendiant held Bizet completely. It was to 


By Charles Willeby 79 

him simple, touching, and great. It showed Don Rodrigue in a 
new light. Those and there were many of them who had 
already cast their choice upon this legend, had recognised but 
recognised merely in their hero, the son prepared to sacrifice his 
love for filial duty, and to yield his life for love. But they had 
not seen in him the Christian, the true and godly soul, the Good 
Samaritan that De Castro represents. The scene of Rodrigue 
with the leper, disdained and done away with by Corneille, with 
which De Castro too was so reproached, was full of attraction for 
Bizet. His whole interest centred round it. He was impatient 
and hungered to get at it ; and " Carmen," on which he was 
already well at work, was even laid aside the while. Faure, too, 
had expressed a sound approval and a hearty interest, and this 
alone meant much. So Bizet once again was full of hope. 
There follows a long and detailed correspondence on the subject 
with Gallet, with which I have not space to deal ; but it shows 
up splendidly the extreme nicety of the musician s dramatic sense. 
In the summer of 1873 "Don Rodrigue" was really finished, 
and one evening Bizet called his friends to come and listen. 
Around the piano were Edouard Blau, Louis Gallet, and Jean 
Faure. Bizet had his score before him to common gaze a skeleton 
thing enough, for of "accompaniment" there was but little. But 
to its creator it was well alive, and he sang in the poorest possible 
voice, it is true the whole thing through from beginning to end. 
Chorus, soprano, tenor, bass, yea, even the choicer "bits" for 
orchestra all came alike to him ; all were infused with life from 
the spirit that created them. It was long past midnight when he 
ceased, and then they sat and talked till dawn. All were en 
thusiastic, and in the opinion of Faure (given three years later) 
this score was more than the equal of " Carmen." His word is 
all we have for it, but it carries with it something of conviction. 


8o The Composer of " Carmen 

He was no bad judge of a work. Anyway, no sooner had he 
heard it than he set about securing its speedy production at the 
Ope>a. And he succeeded in so far that it was put down early 
on the list. But Fate had yet to be reckoned with. She was not 
thus to be baulked of her prey : she had dogged the footsteps of 
poor Bizet far too zealously for that ; and on the 28th October 
(less than a week after he had put finh to his work), she stepped 
in. On that day the Opera was burned down. 

As for the score, it was laid aside, and of its ultimate lot we are 
in ignorance. Inquiry on the part of Gallet seems to have 
elicited nothing more definite than a courteous letter from M. 
Ludovic Halevy, to the effect that he was quite free to dispose of 
the book to another composer. " It was George s favourite," 
wrote his brother-in-law, " and he had great hopes for it ; but it 
was not to be." 

Perhaps of all his powers Bizet s greatest was that of recupera 
tion. It would be wrong to say he did not know defeat; he 
knew it all too well, but he never let it get the better of him. 
He was never without his irons upon the fire, never without a 
project to fall back upon. And perhaps it is not too much to say 
that he had no life outside his art. This too may in truth be 
told of him : that in all the struggle and the scramble, in all his 
fight with fortune, it was the sweeter qualities of his nature that 
came uppermost. His strength of purpose stood on a sound basis 
a basis of confidence in, though not arrogance of, his own 
power. Where he was most handicapped was in carrying on his 
artistic progress coram papula. Had it been as gradual as most 
men s had it been but the acquiring of an ordinary experience 
all might have been well ; he would probably have been accorded 
his niche and would have occupied it. But he progressed by 
leaps and bounds, and even then his ideal kept steadily miles ahead 


By Charles Willeby 81 

of his achievement. It was for long a very will-o -the-wisp for 
him. Now and again he caught it, and it is at such moments that 
we have him at his best; but he can be said only to have captured 
it completely so far as we are in a position to tell in 
"L Arle sienne " and certain parts of "Carmen." His faculty 
of self-criticism was developed in such an extraordinary degree 
as to baulk him. He loved this Don Rodrigue and thought it 
was his masterwork, and that too at the time when " Carmen " 
must have been well forward. We know then that the loss is 
not a small one. 

It had not been alone the fate of the Ope"ra House that had stood 
in the way. That institution had in course taken up its quarters 
at the Salle Ventadour, and once installed there had proceeded 
with the repertoire. But Bizet s "Rodrigue," although well 
backed by Faure, was pushed aside for others. The three names 
that it bore were all too impotent ; and when a new work was 
announced, it was " L Esclave " of Membre that was seen to 
grace the bills, and not " " Don Rodrigue." 

Poor Bizet, disappointed and sore at heart, vanished to hide 
himself once more by his beloved Seine. This time it was to 
Bougival he went. 

M. Massenet had recently produced his " Marie Madeleine " 
and, curiously enough, it had been successful. This seems to have 
spurred Bizet on to emulation. With his usual happy knack of 
hitting on a subject, he wrote off to Gallet, requesting him to do 
a book with Genevieve de Paris the holy Genevieve of legend 
ary lore for heroine. And Gallet, accommodating creature that 
he was, forthwith proceeded to construct his tableaux. Together 
they went off to Lamoureux and read the synopsis to him. He 
approved it heartily, and Bizet got to work. " Carmen " was 
then finished and was undergoing the usual stage of adjournment 


82 The Composer of " Carmen 

sine die. Three times it had been put into rehearsal, only to be 
withdrawn for apparently no reason, and poor Bizet was wearying 
of opera and its ways. This sacred work was relief to him. But 
hardly had he settled down to it when up came " Carmen " once 
again, this time in good earnest. He was forced to leave 
"Genevieve" and come to Paris for rehearsals. It was much 
against his inclination that he did so, for his health was failing 
fast. For long he had suffered from an abscess which had made 
his life a burden to him. Nor had his terrible industry been 
without its effect upon his physique. He did not know it, but 
he had sacrificed to his work the very things he had worked for. 
He felt exhausted, enfeebled, shattered. Probably the excitement 
of rehearsing " Carmen " kept him up the while; but it had its 
after-effect, and the strain proved all the more disastrous. A 
profound melancholy, too, had come over him ; and do what he 
would he could not beat it off. A young singer (some aspirant 
for lyric fame) came one day to sing to him. " Ich grolle 
nicht " and " Aus der Heimath " were chosen. " Quel chef- 
d ceuvre," said he, " mais quelle desolation, c est a vous donner 
la nostalgic de la mort." Then he sat down to the piano and 
played the " Marche Funebre " of Chopin. That was the frame 
of mind he was in. 

In his gayer moments he would often long for Italy. He had 
never forgotten the happy days passed there with Guiraud. " I 
dreamed last night " (he is writing to Guiraud) " that we were all 
at Naples, installed in a most lovely villa, and living under a 
government purely artistic. The Senate was made up by Beet 
hoven, Michael Angelo, Shakespeare, Giorgione, e tutti quanti. 
The National Guard was no more. In place of it there was a 
huge orchestra of which Litolff was the conductor. All suffrage 
was denied to idiots, humbugs, schemers, and ignoramuses that 


By Charles Willeby 83 

is to say, suffrage was cut down to the smallest proportions 
imaginable. Genevieve was a little too amiable for Goethe, but 
despite this trifling circumstance the awakening was terribly 

" Carmen " was produced at last, on the 3rd of March in that 
year (1875). The Habanera of which, by the way, he wrote 
for Mme. Galli-Mari no less than thirteen versions before he 
came across, in an old book, the one we know the prelude to 
the second act, the toreador song, and the quintett were encored. 
The rest fell absolutely flat. 

The blow was a terrific one to Bizet. He had dreamed of 
such a different lot for " Carmen." Arm in arm with Guiraud 
he left the theatre, and together they paced the streets of Paris 
until dawn. Small wonder he felt bitter ; and in vain the kindly 
Guiraud did his best to comfort him. Had not "Don Juan," he 
argued, been accorded a reception no whit better when it was 
produced in Vienna ? and had not poor Mozart said " I have 
written Don Juan for myself and two of my friends " ? But he 
found no consolation in the fact. The press, too, cut him to the 
quick. This " Carmen," said they, was immoral, banale ; it was 
all head and no heart ; the composer had made up his mind to 
show how learned he was, with the result that he was only dull 
and obscure. Then again, the gipsy girl whose liaisons formed 
the subject of the story was at best an odious creature ; the 
actress s gestures were the very incarnation of vice, there was 
something licentious even in the tones of her voice ; the composer 
evidently belonged to the school of civet sans /ievre; there was 
no unity of style ; it was not dramatic, and could never live ; in a 
word, there was no health in it. 

Even Du Locle who of all men should have supported it 
played him false. A minister of the Government wrote personally 


84 The Composer of " Carmen 

to the director for a box for his family. Du Locle replied with 
an invitation to the rehearsal, adding that he had rather that the 
minister came himself before he brought his daughters. 

Prostrate with it all, poor Bizet returned to Bougival. When 
forced to give up " Genevieve," he had written to Gallet : " I 
shall give the whole of May, June, and July to it." And now 
May was already come, and he was in his bed. " Angine colos- 
sale," were the words he sent to Guiraud, who was to have been 
with him the following Sunday. " Do not come as we arranged ; 
imagine, if you can, a double pedal, A flat, E flat, straight through 
your head from left to right. This is how I am just now." 

He never wrote more than a few pages of " Genevieve." He 
got worse and worse. But even so, the end came all too suddenly, 
and on the night of the 2nd of June he died died as nearly as 
possible at the exact moment when Galli-Marie" at the OpeYa 
Comique was singing her song of fate in the card scene of the 
third act of his "Carmen." The coincidence was true enough. 
That night it was with difficulty that she sung her song. Her 
nervousness, from some cause or another, was so great that it was 
with the utmost effort she pronounced the words : " La carte 
impitoyable ; rptera la mort ; encor, toujours la mort." On 
finishing the scene, she fainted at the wings. Next morning 
came the news of Bizet s death. And some friends said because 
it was not meet for them to see the body that the poor fellow 
had killed himself. Small wonder if it were so ! 

Six Drawings 

By Aubrey Beardsley 

I. II. III. The Comedy-Ballet of Marionnettes, 
as performed by the troupe of the Th6atre- 
Impossible, posed in three drawings 

IV. Gardens de Caf 
V. The Slippers of Cinderella 

For you must have all heard of the Princess Cinderella 
with her slim feet and shining slippers. She "was beloved 
iy Prince ****** j w /f a married her, but she died soon 
after-wards, poisoned (according to Dr. Gerscho-vius) by 
her elder sister Arabella, "with powdered glass. It ivai 
ground I suspect from those -very slifpers she danced in at 
the famous ball. For the slippers of Cinderella have ne-ver 
teen found since. They are not at Cluny. 


VI. Portrait of Madame Re"jane 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. 

Thirty Bob a Week 

By John Davidson 

I COULDN T touch a stop and turn a screw, 
And set the blooming world a-work for me, 
Like such as cut their teeth I hope, like you 

On the handle of a skeleton gold key. 
I cut mine on leek, which I eat it every week : 
I m a clerk at thirty bob, as you can see. 

But I don t allow it s luck and all a toss ; 

There s no such thing as being starred and crossed ; 
It s just the power of some to be a boss, 

And the bally power of others to be bossed : 
I face the music, sir ; you bet I ain t a cur ! 

Strike me lucky if I don t believe I m lost ! 

For like a mole I journey in the dark, 

A-travelling along the underground 
From my Pillar d Halls and broad suburban Park 

To come the daily dull official round ; 
And home again at night with my pipe all alight 

A-scheming how to count ten bob a pound. 


ioo Thirty Bob a Week 

And it s often very cold and very wet ; 

And my missis stitches towels for a hunks ; 
And the Pillar d Halls is half of it to let 

Three rooms about the size of travelling trunks. 
And we cough, the wife and I, to dislocate a sigh, 

When the noisy little kids are in their bunks. 

But you ll never hear her do a growl, or whine, 
For she s made of flint and roses very odd ; 

And I ve got to cut my meaning rather fine 

Or I d blubber, for I m made of greens and sod : 

So p rhaps we are in hell for all that I can tell, 
And lost and damned and served up hot to God. 

I ain t blaspheming, Mr. Silvertongue ; 

I m saying things a bit beyond your art : 
Of all the rummy starts you ever sprung 

Thirty bob a week s the rummiest start ! 
With your science and your books and your the ries about 

Did you ever hear of looking in your heart ? 

I didn t mean your pocket, Mr. ; no ! 

I mean that having children and a wife 
With thirty bob on which to come and go 

Isn t dancing to the tabor and the fife ; 
When it doesn t make you drink, by Heaven, it makes you 

And notice curious items about life ! 

I step into my heart and there I meet 
A god-almighty devil singing small, 


By John Davidson lor 

Who would like to shout and whistle in the street, 
And squelch the passers flat against the wall ; 

If the whole world was a cake he had the power to take, 
He would take it, ask for more, and eat it all. 

And I meet a sort of simpleton beside 

The kind that life is always giving beans ; 
With thirty bob a week to keep a bride 

He fell in love and married in his teens ; 
At thirty bob he stuck, but he knows it isn t luck ; 

He knows the seas are deeper than tureens. 

And the god-almighty devil and the fool 

That meet me in the High Street on the strike, 

When I walk about my heart a-gathering wool, 
Are my good and evil angels if you like ; 

And both of them together in every kind of weather 
Ride me like a double-seated " bike." 

That s rough a bit and needs its meaning curled ; 

But I have a high old hot un in my mind, 
A most engrugious notion of the world 

That leaves your lightning rithmetic behind : 
I give it at a glance when I say " There ain t no chance, 

Nor nothing of the lucky-lottery kind." 

And it s this way that I make it out to be : 

No fathers, mothers, countries, climates none !- 

Not Adam was responsible for me ; 
Nor society, nor systems, nary one ! 

A little sleeping seed, I woke I did indeed 
A million years before the blooming sun. 

I woke 

102 Thirty Bob a Week 

I woke because I thought the time had come ; 

Beyond my will there was no other cause : 
And everywhere I found myself at home 

Because I chose to be the thing I was ; 
And in whatever shape, of mollusc, or of ape, 

I always went according to the laws. 

/ was the love that chose my mother out ; 

/ joined two lives and from the union burst ; 
My weakness and my strength without a doubt 

Are mine alone for ever from the first. 
It s just the very same with a difference in the name 

As "Thy will be done." You say it if you durst ! 

They say it daily up and down the land 
As easy as you take a drink, it s true ; 

But the difficultest go to understand, 
And the difficultest job a man can do, 

Is to come it brave and meek with thirty bob a week, 
And feel that that s the proper thing for you. 

It s a naked child against a hungry wolf; 

It s playing bowls upon a splitting wreck ; 
It s walking on a string across a gulf 

With millstones fore-and-aft about your neck : 
But the thing is daily done by many and many a one. 

And we fall, face forward, fighting, on the deck. 

A Responsibility 

By Henry Harland 

IT has been an episode like a German sentence, with its pre 
dicate at the end. Trifling incidents occurred at haphazard, 
as it seemed, and I never guessed they were by way of making 
sense. Then, this morning, somewhat of the suddenest, came the 
verb and the full stop. 

Yesterday I should have said there was nothing to tell ; to-day 
there is too much. The announcement of his death has caused 
me to review our relations, with the result of discovering my own 
part to have been that of an accessory before the fact. I did not 
kill him (though, even there, I m not sure I didn t lend a hand), 
but I might have saved his life. It is certain that he made me 
signals of distress faint, shy, tentative, but unmistakable and 
that I pretended not to understand : just barely dipped my colours, 
and kept my course. Oh, if I had dreamed that his distress was 
extreme that he was on the point of foundering and going down ! 
However, that doesn t exonerate me : I ought to have turned aside 
to find out. It was a case of criminal negligence. That he, poor 
man, probably never blamed me, only adds to the burden on my 
conscience. He had got past blaming people, I dare say, and 
doubtless merely lumped me with the rest with the sum-total of 
things that made life unsupportable. Yet, for a moment, when 


104 A Responsibility 

we first met, his face showed a distinct glimmering of hope ; so 
perhaps there was a distinct disappointment. He must have had 
so many disappointments, before it came to what it came to ; but 
it wouldn t have come to that if he had got hardened to them. 
Possibly they had lost their outlines, and merged into one dull 
general disappointment that was too hard to bear. I wonder 
whether the Priest and the Levite were smitten with remorse 
after they had passed on. Unfortunately, in this instance, no 
Good Samaritan followed. 

The bottom of our long table d hote was held by a Frenchman, 
a Normand, a giant, but a pallid and rather flabby giant, whose 
name, if he had another than Monsieur, I never heard. He pro 
fessed to be a painter, used to sketch birds and profiles on the back 
of his menu-card between the courses, wore shamelessly the multi 
coloured rosette of a foreign order in his buttonhole, and talked 
with a good deal of physiognomy. I had the corner seat at his 
right, and was flanked in turn by Miss Etta J. Hicks, a bouncing 
young person from Chicago, beyond whom, like rabbits in a 
company of foxes, cowered Mr. and Mrs. Jordan P. Hicks, two 
broken-spirited American parents. At Monsieur s left, and facing 
me, sat Colonel Escott, very red and cheerful ; then a young man 
who called the Colonel Cornel, and came from Dublin, proclaiming 
himself a barr ster, and giving his name as Flarty, though on his 
card it was written Flaherty ; and then Sir Richard Maistre. 
After him, a diminishing perspective of busy diners for purposes 
of conversation, so far as we were concerned, inhabitants of the 
Fourth Dimension. 

Of our immediate constellation Sir Richard Maistre was the 
only member on whom the eye was tempted to linger. The others 
were obvious simple equations, soluble " in the head." But he 
called for slate and pencil, offered materials for doubt and specula 

By Henry Harland 105 

tion, though it would not have been easy to tell wherein they lay. 
What displayed itself to a cursory inspection was quite unremark 
able : simply a decent-looking young Englishman, of medium 
stature, with square-cut plain features, reddish-brown hair, grey 
eyes, and clothes and manners of the usual pattern. Yet, showing 
through this ordinary surface, there was something cryptic. For 
me, at any rate, it required a constant effort not to stare at him. I 
felt it from the beginning, and I felt it till the end : a teasing 
curiosity, a sort of magnetism that drew my eyes in his direction. 
I was always on my guard to resist it, and that was really the 
inception of my neglect of him. From I don t know what stupid 
motive of pride, I was anxious that he shouldn t discern the interest 
he had excited in me ; so I paid less ostensible attention to him 
than to the others, who excited none at all. I tried to appear 
unconscious of him as a detached personality, to treat him as merely 
a part of the group as a whole. Then I improved such occasions 
as presented themselves to steal glances at him, to study him d la 
dlrobee groping after the quality, whatever it was, that made him 
a puzzle seeking to formulate, to classify him. 

Already, at the end of my first dinner, he had singled himself 
out and left an impression. I went into the smoking-room, and 
began to wonder, over a cup of coffee and a cigarette, who he was. 
I had not heard his voice ; he hadn t talked much, and his few 
observations had been murmured into the ears of his next neigh 
bours. All the same, he had left an impression, and I found 
myself wondering who he was, the young man with the square-cut 
features and the reddish-brown hair. I have said that his features 
were square-cut and plain, but they were small and carefully 
finished, and as far as possible from being common. And his 
grey eyes, though not conspicuous for size or beauty, had a 
character, an expression. They said something, something I 

couldn t 

106 A Responsibility 

couldn t perfectly translate, something shrewd, humorous, even 
perhaps a little caustic, and yet sad ; not violently, not rebelliously 
sad (I should never have dreamed that it was a sadness which 
would drive him to desperate remedies), but rather resignedly, 
submissively sad, as if he had made up his mind to put the best 
face on a sorry business. This was carried out by a certain 
abruptness, a slight lack of suavity, in his movements, in his 
manner of turning his head, of using his hands. It hinted a 
degree of determination which, in the circumstances, seemed 
superfluous. He had unfolded his napkin and attacked his dinner 
with an air of resolution, like a man with a task before him, who 
mutters, "Well, it s got to be done, and I ll do it." At a hazard, 
he was two- or three-and-thirty, but below his neck he looked 
older. He was dressed like everybody, but his costume had, 
somehow, an effect of soberness beyond his years. It was 
decidedly not smart, and smartness was the dominant note at the 
Hotel d Angleterre. 

I was still more or less vaguely ruminating him, in a corner of 
the smoking-room, on that first evening, when I became aware 
that he was standing near me. As I looked up, our eyes met, and 
for the fraction of a second fixed each other. It was barely the 
fraction of a second, but it was time enough for the transmission 
of a message. I knew as certainly as if he had said so that he 
wanted to speak, to break the ice, to scrape an acquaintance ; I 
knew that he had approached me and "was loitering in my neigh 
bourhood for that specific purpose. I dont know, I have studied 
the psychology of the moment in vain to understand, why I felt a 
perverse impulse to put him off. I was interested in him, I was 
curious about him ; and there he stood, testifying that the interest 
was reciprocal, ready to make the advances, only waiting for a 
glance or a motion of encouragement ; and I deliberately secluded 


By Henry Harland 107 

myself behind my coffee-cup and my cigarette smoke. I suppose 
it was the working of some obscure mannish vanity of what in a 
woman would have defined itself as coyness and coquetry. If he 
wanted to speak well, let him speak ; I wouldn t help him. I 
could realise the processes of his mind even more clearly than 
those of my own his desire, his hesitancy. He was too timid to 
leap the barriers ; I must open a gate for him. He hovered near 
me for a minute longer, and then drifted away. I felt his dis 
appointment, his spiritual shrug of the shoulders ; and I perceived 
rather suddenly that I was disappointed myself. I must have 
been hoping all along that he would speak quand meme, and now I 
was moved to run after him, to call him back. That, however, 
would imply a consciouness of guilt, an admission that my 
attitude had been intentional ; so I kept my seat, making a mental 
rendezvous with him for the morrow. 

Between my Irish vis-a-vis Flaherty and myself there existed 
no such strain. He presently sauntered up to me, and dropped 
into conversation as easily as if we had been old friends. 

Well, and are you here for your health or your entertain 
ment ? " he began. " But I don t need to ask that of a man who s 
drinking black coffee and smoking tobacco at this hour of the 
night. I m the only invalid at our end of the table, and I m no 
better than an amateur meself. It s a barrister s throat I have I 
caught it waiting for briefs in me chambers at Doblin." 

We chatted together for a half-hour or so, and before we parted 
he had given me a good deal of general information about the 
town, the natives, the visitors, the sands, the golf-links, the 
hunting, and, with the rest, about our neighbours at table. 

"Did ye notice the pink-faced bald little man at me right ? 
That s Cornel Escott, C.B., retired. He takes a sea-bath every 
morning, to live up to the letters ; and faith, it s an act of 


io8 A Responsibility 

heroism, no less, in weather the like of this. Three weeks have I 
been here, and but wan day of sunshine, and the mercury never 
above fifty. The other fellow, him at me left, is what you d be 
slow to suspect by the look of him, I ll go bail ; and that s a 
bar net, Sir Richard Maistre, with a place in Hampshire, and ten 
thousand a year if he s a penny. The young lady beside yourself 
rejoices in the euphonious name of Hicks, and trains her Popper 
and Mommer behind her like slaves in a Roman triumph. 
They re Americans, if you must have the truth, though I oughtn t 
to tell it on them, for I m an Irishman myself, and its not for the 
pot to be bearing tales of the kettle. However, their tongues 
bewray them ; so I ve violated no confidence." 

The knowledge that my young man was a baronet with a place 
in Hampshire somewhat disenchanted me. A baronet with a 
place in Hampshire left too little to the imagination. The de 
scription seemed to curtail his potentialities, to prescribe his orbit, 
to connote turnip-fields, house-parties, and a whole system of 
British commonplace. Yet, when, the next day at luncheon, I 
again had him before me in the flesh, my interest revived. Its 
lapse had been due to an association of ideas which I now recog 
nised as unscientific. A baronet with twenty places in Hampshire 
would remain at the end of them all a human being ; and no 
human being could be finished off in a formula of half a dozen 
words. Sir Richard Maistre, anyhow, couldn t be. He was 
enigmatic, and his effect upon me was enigmatic too. Why did 
I feel that tantalising inclination to stare at him, coupled with 
that reluctance frankly to engage in talk with him ? Why did he 
attack his luncheon with that appearance of grim resolution ? For 
a minute, after he had taken his seat, he eyed his knife, fork, and 
napkin, as a labourer might a load that he had to lift, measuring 
the difficulties he must cope with ; then he gave his head a 


By Henry Harland 109 

resolute nod, and set to work. To-day, as yesterday, he said very 
little, murmured an occasional remark into the ear of Flaherty, 
accompanying it usually with a sudden short smile : but he listened 
to everything, and did so with apparent appreciation. 

Our proceedings were opened by Miss Hicks, who asked 
Colonel Escott, " Well, Colonel, have you had your bath this 
morning ? " 

The Colonel chuckled, and answered, "Oh, yes yes, yes 
couldn t forego my bath, you know couldn t possibly forego my 

" And what was the temperature of the water f " she continued. 

" Fifty-two fifty-two three degrees warmer than the air 
three degrees," responded the Colonel, still chuckling, as if the 
whole affair had been extremely funny. 

" And you, Mr. Flaherty, I suppose you ve been to Bayonne ? " 

" No, I ve broken me habit, and not left the hotel." 

Subsequent experience taught me that these were conventional 
modes by which the conversation was launched every day, like the 
preliminary moves in chess. We had another ritual for dinner : 
Miss Hicks then inquired if the Colonel had taken his ride, and 
Flaherty played his game of golf. The next inevitable step was 
common to both meals. Colonel Escott would pour himself a 
glass of the vin ordinaire^ a jug of which was set by every plate, and 
holding it up to the light, exclaim with simulated gusto, "Ah ! 
Fine old wine ! Remarkably full rich flavour ! " At this 
pleasantry we would all gently laugh ; and the word was free. 

Sir Richard, as I have said, appeared to be an attentive and 
appreciative listener, not above smiling at our mildest sallies ; but 
watching him out of the corner of an eye, I noticed that my own 
observations seemed to strike him with peculiar force which led 
me to talk at him. Why not to him, with him ? The interest 


i io A Responsibility 

was reciprocal ; he would have liked a dialogue ; he would have 
welcomed a chance to commence one ; and I could at any instant 
have given him such a chance. I talked at him, it is true ; but I 
talked with Flaherty or Miss Hicks, or to the company at large. 
Of his separate identity he had no reason to believe me conscious. 
From a mixture of motives, in which I m not sure that a certain 
heathenish enjoyment of his embarrassment didn t count for some 
thing, I was determined that if he wanted to know me he must 
come the whole distance ; I wouldn t meet him half-way. Ot 
course I had no idea that it could be a matter of the faintest real 
importance to the man. I judged his feelings by my own ; and 
though I was interested in him, I shall have conveyed an altogether 
exaggerated notion of my interest if you fancy it kept me awake 
at night. How was I to guess that his case was more serious 
that he was not simply desirous of a little amusing talk, but 
starving, starving for a little human sympathy, a little brotherly 
love and comradeship ? that he was in an abnormally sensitive 
condition of mind, where mere-negative unresponsiveness could 
hurt him like a slight or a rebuff? 

In the course of the week I ran over to Pau, to pass a day with 
the Winchfields, who had a villa there. When I came back I 
brought with me all that they (who knew everybody) could tell 
about Sir Richard Maistre. He was intelligent and amiable, but 
the shyest of shy men. He avoided general society, frightened 
away perhaps by the British Mamma, and spent a good part of 
each year abroad, wandering rather listlessly from town to town. 
Though young and rich, he was neither fast nor ambitious : the 
Members entrance to the House of Commons, the stage-doors of 
the music halls, were equally without glamour for him ; and if he 
was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy L ieutenant, he had become 
so through the tacit operation of his stake in the country. He 


By Henry Harland 1 1 1 

had chambers in St. James s Street, was a member of the 
Travellers Club, and played the violin for an amateur rather 
well. His brother, Mortimer Maistre, was in diplomacy at Rio 
Janeiro or somewhere. His sister had married an Australian, and 
lived in Melbourne. 

At the Hotel d Angleterre I found his shyness was mistaken for 
indifference. He was civil to everybody, but intimate with none. 
He attached himself to no party, paired off with no individuals. 
He sought nobody. On the other hand, the persons who went 
out of their way to seek him, came back, as they felt, repulsed. 
He had been polite but languid. These, however, were not the 
sort of persons he would be likely to care for. There prevailed a 
general conception of him as cold, unsociable. He certainly 
walked about a good deal alone you met him on the sands, on the 
cliffs, in the stiff little streets, rambling aimlessly, seldom with a 
companion. But to me it was patent that he played the solitary 
from necessity, not from choice from the necessity of his tem 
perament. A companion was precisely that which above all 
things his heart coveted ; only he didn t know how to set about 
annexing one. If he sought nobody, it was because he didn t 
know how. This was a part of what his eyes said ; they bespoke 
his desire, his perplexity, his lack of nerve. Of the people who 
put themselves out to seek him, there was Miss Hicks ; there 
were a family from Leeds, named Bunn, a father, mother, son, 
and two redoubtable daughters, who drank champagne with every 
meal, dressed in the height of fashion, said their say at the tops of 
their voices, and were understood to be auctioneers ; a family 
from Bayswater named Krausskopf. I was among those whom 
he had marked as men he would like to fraternise with. As often 
as our paths crossed, his eyes told me that he longed to stop and 
speak, and continue the promenade abreast. I was under the 


H2 A Responsibility 

control of a demon of mischief; I took a malicious pleasure 
in eluding and baffling him in passing on with a nod. It had 
become a kind of game ; I was curious to see whether he would 
ever develop sufficient hardihood to take the bull by the horns. 
After all, from a conventional point of view, my conduct was 
quite justifiable. I always meant to do better by him next time, 
and then I always deferred it to the next. But from a con 
ventional point of view my conduct was quite unassailable. I said 
this to myself when I had momentary qualms of conscience. Now, 
rather late in the day, it strikes me that the conventional point of 
view should have been re-adjusted to the special case. I should 
have allowed for his personal equation. 

My cousin Wilford came to Biarritz about this time, stopping 
for a week, on his way home from a tour in Spain. I couldn t 
find a room for him at the Hotel d Angleterre, so he put up at 
a rival hostelry over the way ; but he dined with me on the 
evening of his arrival, a place being made for him between mine 
and Monsieur s. He hadn t been at the table five minutes before 
the rumour went abroad who he was somebody had recognised 
him. Then those who were within reach of his voice listened 
with all their ears Colonel Escott, Flaherty, Maistre, and Miss 
Hicks, of course, who even called him by name : " Oh, Mr. 
Wilford." "Now, Mr. Wilford," &c. After dinner, in the 
smoking-room, a cluster of people hung round us; men with 
whom I had no acquaintance came merrily up and asked to be 
introduced. Colonel Escott and Flaherty joined us. At the 
outskirts of the group I beheld Sir Richard Maistre. His eyes 
(without his realising it perhaps) begged me to invite him, to 
present him, and I affected not to understand ! This is one of 
the little things I find hardest to forgive myself. My whole 
behaviour towards the young man is now a subject of self- 
reproach ; 

By Henry Harland 113 

reproach : if it had been different, who knows that the tragedy of 
yesterday would ever have happened ? If I had answered his 
timid overtures, walked with him, talked with him, cultivated his 
friendship, given him mine, established a kindly human relation 
with him, I can t help feeling that he might not have got to such 
a desperate pass, that I might have cheered him, helped him, saved 
him. I feel it especially when I think of Wilford. His eyes 
attested so much ; he would have enjoyed meeting him so keenly. 
No doubt he was already fond of the man, had loved him through 
his books, like so many others. If I had introduced him ? If we 
had taken him with us the next morning, on our excursion to 
Cambo ? Included him occasionally in our smokes and parleys ? 

Wilford left for England without dining again at the Hotel 
d Angleterre. We were busy "doing" the country, and never 
chanced to be at Biarritz at the dinner-hour. During that week 
I scarcely saw Sir Richard Maistre. 

Another little circumstance that rankles especially now would 
have been ridiculous, except for the way things have ended. It 
isn t easy to tell it was so petty, and I am so ashamed. Colonel 
Escott had been abusing London, describing it as the least 
beautiful of the capitals of Europe, comparing it unfavourably to 
Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. I took up the cudgels in its 
defence, mentioned its atmosphere, its tone ; Paris, Vienna, St. 
Petersburg were lyric, London was epic ; and so forth and so 
forth. Then, shifting from the aesthetic to the utilitarian, I 
argued that of all great towns it was the healthiest, its death-rate 
was lowest. Sir Richard Maistre had followed my dissertation 
attentively, and with a countenance that signified approval ; and 
when, with my reference to the death-rate, I paused, he suddenly 
burned his ships. He looked me full in the eye, and said, 
"Thirty-seven, I believe?" His heightened colour, a nervous 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. G movement 

ii4 A Responsibility 

movement of the lip, betrayed the effort it had cost him ; but at 
last he had done it screwed his courage to the sticking-place, and 
spoken. And I I can never forget it I grow hot when I 
think of it but I was possessed by a devil. His eyes hung on 
my face, awaiting my response, pleading for a cue. " Go on," 
they urged. " I have taken the first, the difficult step make the 
next smoother for me." And I I answered lackadaisically, with 
just a casual glance at him, " I don t know the figures," and 
absorbed myself in my viands. 

Two or three days later his place was filled by a stranger, and 
Flaherty told me that he had left for the Riviera. 

All this happened last March at Biarritz. I never saw him 
again till three weeks ago. It was one of those frightfully hot 
afternoons in July ; I had come out of my club, and was walking 
up St. James s Street, towards Piccadilly ; he was moving in an 
opposite sense ; and thus we approached each other. He didn t 
see me, however, till we had drawn rather near to a conjunction : 
then he gave a little start of recognition, his eyes brightened, his 
pace slackened, his right hand prepared to advance itself and I 
bowed slightly, and pursued my way ! Don t ask why I did 
it. It is enough to confess it, without having to explain it. I 
glanced backwards, by and by, over my shoulder. He was stand 
ing where I had met him, half turned round, and looking after 
me. But when he saw that I was observing him, he hastily 
shifted about, and continued his descent of the street. 

That was only three weeks ago. Only three weeks ago I still 
had it in my power to act. I am sure I don t know why I am 
sure, but I am sure that I could have deterred him. For all 
that one can gather from the brief note he left behind, it seems he 
had no special, definite motive ; he had met with no losses, got 
into no scrape ; he was simply tired and sick of life and of himself. 

" I have 

By Henry Harland 115 

" I have no friends," he wrote. " Nobody will care. People 
don t like me; people avoid me. I have wondered why ; I have 
tried to watch myself", and discover; I have tried to be decent. I 
suppose it must be that I emit a repellent fluid ; I suppose I am a 
bad sort. He had a morbid notion that people didn t like him, 
that people avoided him ! Oh, to be sure, there were the Bunns 
and the Krausskopfs and their ilk, plentiful enough : but he under 
stood what it was that attracted them. Other people, the people 
he could have liked, kept their distance were civil, indeed, but 
reserved. He wanted bread, and they gave him a stone. It never 
struck him, I suppose, that they attributed the reserve to him. 
But I I knew that his reserve was only an effect of his shyness ; 
I knew that he wanted bread : and that knowledge constituted my 
moral responsibility. I didn t know that his need was extreme ; 
but I have tried in vain to absolve myself with the reflection. I 
ought to have made inquiries. When I think of that afternoon 
in St. James s Street only three weeks ago I feel like an 
assassin. The vision of him, as he stopped and looked after me 
I can t banish it. Why didn t some good spirit move me to turn 
back and overtake him ? 

It is so hard for the mind to reconcile itself to the irretrievable. 
I can t shake off a sense that there is something to be done. I 
can t realise that it is too late. 


By Charlotte M. Mew 

"Like souls that meeting pass, 
And passing never meet again." 

Cr those who have missed a romantic view of London in its 
poorest quarters and there will romance be found wait 
for a sunset in early winter. They may turn North or South, 
towards Islington or Westminster, and encounter some fine 
pictures and more than one aspect of unique beauty. This hour 
of pink twilight has its monopoly of effects. Some of them may 
never be reached again. 

On such an evening in mid-December, I put down my sewing 
and left tame glories of fire-light (discoverers of false charm) to 
welcome, as youth may, the contrast of keen air outdoors to the 
glow within. 

My aim was the perfection of a latent appetite, for I had no 
mind to content myself with an apology for hunger, consequent 
on a warmly passive afternoon. 

The splendid cold of fierce frost set my spirit dancing. The 
road rung hard underfoot, and through the lonely squares woke 
sharp echoes from behind. This stinging air assailed my cheeks 
with vigorous severity. It stirred my blood grandly, and brought 


122 Passed 

thought back to me from the warm embers just forsaken, with an 
immeasurable sense of gain. 

But after the first delirium of enchanting motion, destination 
became a question. The dim trees behind the dingy enclosures 
were beginning to be succeeded by rows of flaring gas jets, dis 
playing shops of new aspect and evil smell. Then the heavy walls 
of a partially demolished prison reared themselves darkly against 
the pale sky. 

By this landmark I recalled alas that it should be possible 
a church in the district, newly built by an infallible architect, 
which I had been directed to seek at leisure. I did so now. A 
row of cramped houses, with the unpardonable bow window, 
projecting squalor into prominence, came into view. Robbing 
these even of light, the portentous walls stood a silent curse 
before them. I think they were blasting the hopes of the 
sad dwellers beneath them if hope they had to despair. 
Through spattered panes faces of diseased and dirty children 
leered into the street. One room, as I passed, seemed full of 
them. The window was open ; their wails and maddening re 
quirements sent out the mother s cry. It was thrown back to 
her, mingled with her children s screams, from the pitiless prison 

These shelters struck my thought as travesties perhaps they 
were not of the grand place called home. 

Leaving them I sought the essential of which they were bereft. 
What withheld from them, as poverty and sin could not, a title 
to the sacred name ? 

An answer came, but interpretation was delayed. Theirs was 
not the desolation of something lost, but of something that had 
never been. I thrust off speculation gladly here, and fronted 
Nature free. 


By Charlotte M. Mew 123 

Suddenly I emerged from the intolerable shadow of the brick 
work, breathing easily once more. Before me lay a roomy space, 
nearly square, bounded by three-storey dwellings, and transformed, 
as if by quick mechanism, with colours of sunset. Red and 
golden spots wavered in the panes of the low scattered houses 
round the bewildering expanse. Overhead a faint crimson sky 
was hung with violet clouds, obscured by the smoke and nearing 

In the centre, but towards the left, stood an old stone pump, 
and some few feet above it irregular lamps looked down. They 
were planted on a square of paving railed in by broken iron fences, 
whose paint, now discoloured, had once been white. Narrow 
streets cut in five directions from the open roadway. Their lines 
of light sank dimly into distance, mocking the stars entrance into 
the fading sky. Everything was transfigured in the illuminated 
twilight. As I stood, the dying sun caught the rough edges of a 
girl s uncovered hair, and hung a faint nimbus round her poor 
desecrated face. The soft circle, as she glanced toward me, lent 
it the semblance of one of those mystically pictured faces of some 
mediaeval saint. 

A stillness stole on, and about the square dim figures hurried 
along, leaving me stationary in existence (I was thinking fanci 
fully), when my mediaeval saint demanded " who I was a-shoving 
of? " and dismissed me, not unkindly, on my way. Hawkers in a 
neighbouring alley were calling, and the monotonous ting-ting of 
the muffin-bell made an audible background to the picture. I 
left it, and then the glamour was already passing. In a little 
while darkness possessing it, the place would reassume its aspect of 
sordid gloom. 

There is a street not far from there, bearing a name that 
quickens life within one, by the vision it summons of a most 


124 Passed 

peaceful country, where the broad roads are but pathways through 
green meadows, and your footstep keeps the time to a gentle music 
of pure streams. There the scent of roses, and the first pushing 
buds of spring, mark the seasons, and the birds call out faithfully 
the time and manner of the day. Here Easter is heralded by the 
advent in some squalid mart of air-balls on Good Friday ; early 
summer and late may be known by observation of that un- 
romantic yet authentic calendar in which alley-tors, tip-cat, 
whip- and peg-tops, hoops and suckers, in their courses mark the 
flight of time. 

Perhaps attracted by the incongruity, I took this way. In such 
a thoroughfare it is remarkable that satisfied as are its public with 
transient substitutes for literature, they require permanent types 
(the term is so far misused it may hardly be further outraged) of 
Art. Pictures, so-called, are the sole departure from necessity and 
popular finery which the prominent wares display. The window 
exhibiting these aspirations was scarcely more inviting than the 
fishmonger s next door, but less odoriferous, and I stopped to see 
what the ill-reflecting lights would show. There was a typical 
selection. Prominently, a large chromo of a girl at prayer. Her 
eyes turned upwards, presumably to heaven, left the gazer in no 
state to dwell on the elaborately bared breasts below. These 
might rival, does wax-work attempt such beauties, any similar 
attraction of Marylebone s extensive show. This personification 
of pseudo-purity was sensually diverting, and consequently market 

My mind seized the ideal of such a picture, and turned from this 
prostitution of it sickly away. Hurriedly I proceeded, and did 
not stop again until I had passed the low gateway of the place I 

Its forbidding exterior was hidden in the deep twilight and 


By Charlotte M. Mew 125 

invited no consideration. I entered and swung back the inner 
door. It was papered with memorial cards, recommending to 
mercy the unprotesting spirits of the dead. My prayers were re 
quested for the " repose of the soul of the Architect of that 
church, who passed away in the True Faith December, 1887." 
Accepting the assertion, I counted him beyond them, and mentally 
entrusted mine to the priest for those who were still groping for 
it in the gloom. 

Within the building, darkness again forbade examination. A 
few lamps hanging before the altar struggled with obscurity. 

I tried to identify some ugly details with the great man s com 
placent eccentricity, and failing, turned toward the street again. 
Nearly an hour s walk lay between me and my home. This fact 
and the atmosphere of stuffy sanctity about the place, set me 
longing for space again, and woke a fine scorn for aught but air 
and sky. My appetite, too, was now an hour ahead of opportunity. 
I sent back a final glance into the darkness as my hand prepared 
to strike the door. There was no motion at the moment, and it 
was silent ; but the magnetism of human presence reached me 
where I stood. I hesitated, and in a few moments found what 
sought me on a chair in the far corner, flung face downwards 
across the seat. The attitude arrested me. I went forward. The 
lines of the figure spoke unquestionable despair. 

Does speech convey intensity of anguish ? Its supreme ex 
pression is in form. Here was human agony set forth in meagre 
lines, voiceless, but articulate to the soul. At first the forcible 
portrayal of it assailed me with the importunate strength of beauty. 
Then the Thing stretched there in the obdurate darkness grew 
personal and banished delight. Neither sympathy nor its vulgar 
substitute, curiosity, induced my action as I drew near. I was 
eager indeed to be gone. I wanted to ignore the almost indis 

126 Passed 

tinguishable being. My will cried : Forsake it ! but I found 
myself powerless to obey. Perhaps it would have conquered had 
not the girl swiftly raised herself in quest of me. I stood still. 
Her eyes met mine. A wildly tossed spirit looked from those ill- 
lighted windows, beckoning me on. Mine pressed towards it, but 
whether my limbs actually moved I do not know, for the 
imperious summons robbed me of any consciousness save that of 
necessity to comply. 

Did she reach me, or was our advance mutual ? It cannot be 
told. I suppose we neither know. But we met, and her hand, 
grasping mine, imperatively dragged me into the cold and noisy 

We went rapidly in and out of the flaring booths, hustling little 
staggering children in our unpitying speed, I listening dreamily to 
the concert of hoarse yells and haggling whines which struck 
against the silence of our flight. On and on she took me, 
breathless and without explanation. We said nothing. I had no 
care or impulse to ask our goal. The fierce pressure of my hand 
was not relaxed a breathing space ; it would have borne me against 
resistance could I have offered any, but I was capable of none. 
The streets seemed to rush past us, peopled with despair. 

Weirdly lighted faces sent blank negations to a spirit of question 
which finally began to stir in me. Here, I thought once vaguely, 
was the everlasting No ! 

We must have journeyed thus for more than half an hour and 
walked far. I did not detect it. In the eternity of supreme 
moments time is not. Thought, too, fears to be obtrusive and 
stands aside. 

We gained a door at last, down some blind alley out of the 
deafening thoroughfare. She threw herself against it and pulled me 
up the unlighted stairs. They shook now and then with the 


By Charlotte M. Mew 127 

violence of our ascent ; with my free hand I tried to help myself 
up by the broad and greasy balustrade. There was little sound in 
the house. A light shone under the first door we passed, but all 
was quietness within. 

At the very top, from the dense blackness of the passage, 
my guide thrust me suddenly into a dazzling room. My eyes 
rejected its array of brilliant light. On a small chest of drawers 
three candles were guttering, two more stood flaring in the high 
window ledge, and a lamp upon a table by the bed rendered these 
minor illuminations unnecessary by its diffusive glare. There 
were even some small Christmas candles dropping coloured grease 
down the wooden mantel-piece, and I noticed a fire had been 
made, built entirely of wood. There were bits of an inlaid work- 
box or desk, and a chair-rung, lying half burnt in the grate. Some 
peremptory demand for light had been, these signs denoted 
unscrupulously met. A woman lay upon the bed, half clothed, 
asleep. As the door slammed behind me the flames wavered and 
my companion released my hand. She stood beside me, shuddering 
violently, but without utterance. 

I looked around. Everywhere proofs of recent energy were 
visible. The bright panes reflecting back the low burnt candles, 
the wretched but shining furniture, and some odd bits of painted 
china, set before the spluttering lights upon the drawers, bore 
witness to a provincial intolerance of grime. The boards were 
bare, and marks of extreme poverty distinguished the whole room. 
The destitution of her surroundings accorded ill with the girl s 
spotless person and well-tended hands, which were hanging 
tremulously down. 

Subsequently I realised that these deserted beings must have 
first fronted the world from a sumptuous stage. The details in 
proof of it I need not cite. It must have been so. 


1 28 Passed 

My previous apathy gave place to an exaggerated observation. 
Even some pieces of a torn letter, dropped off the quilt, I noticed, 
were of fine texture, and inscribed by a man s hand. One fragment 
bore an elaborate device in colours. It may have been a club crest 
or coat-of-arms. I was trying to decide which, when the girl at 
length gave a cry of exhaustion or relief, at the same time falling 
into a similar attitude to that she had taken in the dim church. 
Her entire frame became shaken with tearless agony or terror. It 
was sickening to watch. She began partly to call or moan, 
begging me, since I was beside her, wildly, and then with heart 
breaking weariness, " to stop, to stay." She half rose and claimed 
me with distracted grace. All her movements were noticeably 

I pass no judgment on her features ; suffering for the time 
assumed them, and they made no insistence of individual claim. 

I tiied to raise her, and kneeling, pulled her reluctantly towards 
me. The proximity was distasteful. An alien presence has ever 
repelled me. I should have pitied the girl keenly perhaps a few 
more feet away. She clung to me with ebbing force. Her heart 
throbbed painfully close to mine, and when I meet now in the 
dark streets others who have been robbed, as she has been, of their 
great possession, I have to remember that. 

The magnetism of our meeting was already passing ; and, reason 
asserting itself, I reviewed the incident dispassionately, as she lay 
like a broken piece of mechanism in my arms. Her dark hair 
had come unfastened and fell about my shoulder. A faint white 
streak of it stole through the brown. A gleam of moonlight 
strays thus through a dusky room. I remember noticing, as it 
was swept with her involuntary motions across my face, a faint 
fragrance which kept recurring like a subtle and seductive sprite> 
hiding itself with fairy cunning in the tangled maze. 


By Charlotte M. Mew 129 

The poor girl s mind was clearly travelling a devious way. 
Broken and incoherent exclamations told of a recently wrung 
promise, made to whom, or of what nature, it was not my business 
to conjecture or inquire. 

I record the passage of a few minutes. At the first opportunity 
I sought the slumberer on the bed. She slept well : hers was 
a long rest ; there might be no awakening from it, for she was 
dead. Schooled in one short hour to all surprises, the knowledge 
made me simply richer by a fact. Nothing about the sternly 
set face invited horror. It had been, and was yet, a strong 
and, if beauty be not confined to youth and colour, a beautiful 

Perhaps this quiet sharer of the convulsively broken silence was 
thirty years old. Death had set a firmness about the finely con 
trolled features that might have shown her younger. The actual 
years are of little matter ; existence, as we reckon time, must have 
lasted long. It was not death, but life that had planted the look 
of disillusion there. And romance being over, all good-byes to 
youth are said. By the bedside, on a roughly constructed table, 
was a dearly bought bunch of violets. They were set in a blue 
bordered tea-cup, and hung over in wistful challenge of their own 
diviner hue. They were foreign, and their scent probably 
unnatural, but it stole very sweetly round the room. A book lay 
face downwards beside them alas for parochial energies, not of 
a religious type and the torn fragments of the destroyed letter 
had fallen on the black binding. 

A passionate movement of the girl s breast against mine directed 
my glance elsewhere. She was shivering, and her arms about my 
neck were stiffly cold. The possibility that she was starving 
missed my mind. It would have found my heart. I wondered 
if she slept, and dared not stir, though I was by this time cramped 


130 Passed 

and chilled. The vehemence of her agitation ended, she breathed 
gently, and slipped finally to the floor. 

I began to face the need of action and recalled the chances 
of the night. When and how I might get home was a necessary 
question, and I listened vainly for a friendly step outside. None 
since we left it had climbed the last flight of stairs. I could hear 
a momentary vibration of men s voices in the room below. Was 
it possible to leave these suddenly discovered children of peace and 
tumult ? Was it possible to stay ? 

This was Saturday, and two days later I was bound for Scotland ; 
a practical recollection of empty trunks was not lost in my survey 
of the situation. Then how, if I decided not to forsake the poor 
child, now certainly sleeping in my arms, were my anxious friends 
to learn my whereabouts, and understand the eccentricity of the 
scheme? Indisputably, I determined, something must be done for 
the half-frantic wanderer who was pressing a tiring weight against 
me. And there should be some kind hand to cover the cold limbs 
and close the wide eyes of the breathless sleeper, waiting a comrade s 
sanction to fitting rest. 

Conclusion was hastening to impatient thought, when my eyes 
let fall a fatal glance upon the dead girl s face. I do not think it 
had changed its first aspect of dignified repose, and yet now it woke 
in me a sensation of cold dread. The dark eyes unwillingly open 
reached mine in an insistent stare. One hand lying out upon the 
coverlid, I could never again mistake for that of temporarily 
suspended life. My watch ticked loudly, but I dared not examine 
it, nor could I wrench my sight from the figure on the bed. For 
the first time the empty shell of being assailed my senses. I 
watched feverishly, knowing well the madness of the action, for a 
hint of breathing, almost stopping my own. 

To-day, as memory summons it, I cannot dwell without 


By Charlotte M. Mew 131 

reluctance on this hour of my realisation of the thing called 

A hundred fancies, clothed in mad intolerable terrors, possessed 
me, and had not my lips refused it outlet, I should have set free a 
cry, as the spent child beside me had doubtless longed to do, and 
failed, ere, desperate, she fled. 

My gaze was chained ; it could not get free. As the shapes of 
monsters of ever varying and increasing dreadfulness flit through 
one s dreams, the images of those I loved crept round me, with 
stark yet well-known features, their limbs borrowing death s rigid 
outline, as they mocked my recognition of them with soundless 
semblances of mirth. They began to wind their arms about me 
in fierce embraces of burning and supernatural life. Gradually 
the contact froze. They bound me in an icy prison. Their hold 
relaxed. These creatures of my heart were restless. The horribly 
familiar company began to dance at intervals in and out a ring of 
white gigantic bedsteads, set on end like tombstones, each of which 
framed a huge and fearful travesty of the sad set face that was all 
the while seeking vainly a pitiless stranger s care. They vanished. 
My heart went home. The dear place was desolate. No echo 
of its many voices on the threshold or stair. My footsteps made 
no sound as I went rapidly up to a well-known room. Here I 
besought the mirror for the reassurance of my own reflection. It 
denied me human portraiture and threw back cold glare. As I 
opened mechanically a treasured book, I noticed the leaves were 
blank, not even blurred by spot or line ; and then I shivered it 
was deadly cold. The fire that but an hour or two ago it seemed 
I had forsaken for the winter twilight, glowed with slow derision 
at my efforts to rekindle heat. My hands plunged savagely into 
its red embers, but I drew them out quickly, unscathed and clean. 
The things by which I had touched life were nothing. Here, as 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. H I called 

132 Passed 

I called the dearest names, their echoes came back again with the 
sound of an unlearned language. I did not recognise, and yet I 
framed them. What was had never been ! 

My spirit summoned the being who claimed mine. He came, 
stretching out arms of deathless welcome. As he reached me my 
heart took flight. I called aloud to it, but my cries were lost in 
awful laughter that broke to my bewildered fancy from the 
hideously familiar shapes which had returned and now encircled 
the grand form of him I loved. But I had never known him. 
I beat my breast to wake there the wonted pain of tingling joy. 
I called past experience with unavailing importunity to bear 
witness the man was wildly dear to me. He was not. He left 
me with bent head a stranger, whom I would not if I could 

For one brief second, reason found me. I struggled to shake 
off the phantoms of despair. I tried to grasp while it yet lingered 
the teaching of this never-to-be-forgotten front of death. The 
homeless house with its indefensible bow window stood out from 
beneath the prison walls again. What had this to do with it ? 
I questioned. And the answer it had evoked replied, " Not 
the desolation of something lost, but of something that had never 

The half-clad girl of the wretched picture-shop came into view 
with waxen hands and senseless symbolism. I had grown calmer, 
but her doll-like lips hissed out the same half-meaningless but 
pregnant words. Then the nights of a short life when I could 
pray, years back in magical childhood, sought me. They found me 
past them without the power 

Truly the body had been for me the manifestation of the thing 
called soul. Here was my embodiment bereft. My face was 
stiff with drying tears. Sickly I longed to beg of an unknown God 

a miracle. 

By Charlotte M. Mew 133 

a miracle. Would He but touch the passive body and breathe into 
it the breath even of transitory life. 

I craved but a fleeting proof of its ever possible existence. For 
to me it was not, would never be, and had never been. 

The partially relinquished horror was renewing dominance. 
Speech of any incoherence or futility would have brought mental 
power of resistance. My mind was fast losing landmarks amid the 
continued quiet of the living and the awful stillness of the dead. 
There was no sound, even of savage guidance, I should not then 
have welcomed with glad response. 

"The realm of Silence," says one of the world s great teachers, 
" is large enough beyond the grave." 

I seemed to have passed life s portal, and my soul s small strength 
was beating back the noiseless gate. In my extremity, I cried, 
" O God ! for man s most bloody warshout, or Thy whisper ! " 
It was useless. Not one dweller in the crowded tenements broke 
his slumber or relaxed his labour in answer to the involuntary 

And may the Day of Account of Words take note of this ! 
Then, says the old fable, shall the soul of the departed be weighed 
against an image of Truth. I tried to construct in imagination 
the form of the dumb deity who should bear down the balances 
for me. Soundlessness was turning fear to madness. I could 
neither quit nor longer bear company the grim Presence in that 
room. But the supreme moment was very near. 

Long since, the four low candles had burned out, and now the 
lamp was struggling fitfully to keep alight. The flame could last 
but a few moments. I saw it, and did not face the possibility or 
darkness. The sleeping girl, I concluded rapidly, had used all 
available weapons of defiant light. 

As yet, since my entrance, I had hardly stirred, steadily support 

134 Passed 

ing the burden on my breast. Now, without remembrance of it, 
I started up to escape. The violent suddenness of the action woke 
my companion. She staggered blindly to her feet and confronted 
me as I gained the door. 

Scarcely able to stand, and dashing the dimness from her eyes, 
she clutched a corner of the drawers behind her for support. 
Her head thrown back, and her dark hair hanging round it, 
crowned a grandly tragic form. This was no poor pleader, and I 
was unarmed for fight. She seized my throbbing arm and cried 
in a whisper, low and hoarse, but strongly audible : 

" For God s sake, stay here with me." 

My lips moved vainly. I shook my head. 

" For God in heaven s sake " she repeated, swaying, and 
turning her burning, reddened eyes on mine "don t leave me 


I stood irresolute, half stunned. Stepping back, she stooped 
and began piecing together the dismembered letter on the bed. 
A mute protest arrested her from a cold sister s face. She 
swept the action from her, crying, " No ! " and bending forward 
suddenly, gripped me with fierce force. 

" Here ! Here ! " she prayed, dragging me passionately back 
into the room. 

The piteous need and wild entreaty no, the vision of dire 
anguish was breaking my purpose of flight. A fragrance that 
was to haunt me stole between us. The poor little violets put 
in their plea. I moved to stay. Then a smile the splendour 
of it may never be reached again touched her pale lips and broke 
through them, transforming, with divine radiance, her young 
and blurred and never-to-be-forgotten face. It wavered, or was 
it the last uncertain flicker of the lamp that made me fancy it . ? 
The exquisite moment was barely over when darkness came. 


By Charlotte M. Mew 135 

Then light indeed forsook me. Almost ignorant of my own 
intention, I resisted the now trembling figure, indistinguishable 
m the gloom, but it still clung. I thrust it off me with un 
natural vigour. 

She fell heavily to the ground. Without a pause of thought I 
stumbled down the horrible unlighted stairs. A few steps before 
I reached the bottom my foot struck a splint off the thin edge of 
one of the rotten treads. I slipped, and heard a door above open 
and then shut. No other sound. At length I was at the door. 
It was ajar. I opened it and looked out. Since I passed through 
it first the place had become quite deserted. The inhabitants 
were, I suppose, all occupied elsewhere at such an hour on their 
holiday night. The lamps, if there were any, had not been lit. 
The outlook was dense blackness. Here too the hideous dark 
pursued me and silence held its sway. Even the children were 
screaming in more enticing haunts of gaudy squalor. Some, 
whose good angels perhaps had not forgotten them, had put 
themselves to sleep. Not many hours ago their shrieks were 
deafening. Were these too in conspiracy against me ? I 
remembered vaguely hustling some of them with unmeant harsh 
ness in my hurried progress from the Church. Dumb the whole 
place seemed ; and it was, but for the dim stars aloft, quite dark. 
I dared not venture across the threshold, bound by pitiable 
cowardice to the spot. Alas for the unconscious girl upstairs. 
A murmur from within the house might have sent me back to 
her. Certainly it would have sent me, rather than forth into the 
empty street. The faintest indication of humanity had recalled 
me. I waited the summons of a sound. It came. 

But from the deserted, yet not so shamefully deserted, street. 
A man staggering home by aid of friendly railings, set up a 
drunken song. At the first note I rushed towards him, pushing 


136 Passed 

past him in wild departure, and on till I reached the noisome and 
flaring thoroughfare, a haven where sweet safety smiled. Here I 
breathed joy, and sped away without memory of the two lifeless 
beings lying alone in that shrouded chamber of desolation, and 
with no instinct to return. 

My sole impulse was flight ; and the way, unmarked in the 
earlier evening, was unknown. It took me some minutes to find 
a cab ; but the incongruous vehicle, rudely dispersing the hag 
gling traders in the roadway, came at last, and carried me from 
the distorted crowd of faces and the claims of pity to peace. 

I lay back shivering, and the wind crept through the rattling 
glass in front of me. I did not note the incalculable turnings that 
took me home. 

My account of the night s adventure was abridged and un- 
sensational. I was pressed neither for detail nor comment, but 
accorded a somewhat humorous welcome which bade me say 
farewell to dying horror, and even let me mount boldly to the 
once death-haunted room. 

Upon its threshold I stood and looked in, half believing possible 
the greeting pictured there under the dead girl s influence, and I 
could not enter. Again I fled, this time to kindly light, and 
heard my brothers laughing noisily with a friend in the bright hall. 
A waltz struck up in the room above as I reached them. I 
joined the impromptu dance, and whirled the remainder of that 
evening gladly away. 

Physically wearied, I slept. My slumber had no break in it. 
I woke only to the exquisite joys of morning, and lay watching 
the early shadows creep into the room. Presently the sun rose. 
His first smile greeted me from the glass before my bed. I 
sprang up disdainful of that majestic reflection, and flung the 
window wide to meet him face to face. His splendour fell too on 


By Charlotte M. Mew 137 

one who had trusted me, but I forgot it. Not many days later 
the same sunlight that turned my life to laughter shone on the 
saddest scene of mortalending, and, for one I had forsaken, lit the 
ways of death. I never dreamed it might. For the next morn 
ing the tragedy of the past night was a distant one, no longer in 

At twelve o clock, conscience suggested a search. I acquiesced, 
but did not move. At half-past, it insisted on one, and I obeyed. 
I set forth with a determination of success and no clue to promise 
it. At four o clock, I admitted the task hopeless and abandoned 
it. Duty could ask no more of me, I decided, not wholly dis 
satisfied that failure forbade more difficult demands. As I passed 
it on my way home, some dramatic instinct impelled me to re- 
enter the unsightly church. 

I must almost have expected to see the same prostrate figure, 
for my eyes instantly sought the corner it had occupied. The 
winter twilight showed it empty. A service was about to begin. 
One little lad in violet skirt and goffered linen was struggling to 
light the benediction tapers, and a troop of school children pushed 
past me as I stood facing the altar and blocking their way. A 
grey-clad sister of mercy was arresting each tiny figure, bidding it 
pause beside me, and with two firm hands on either shoulder, 
compelling a ludicrous curtsey, and at the same time whispering 
the injunction to each hurried little personage, "always make a 
reverence to the altar." " Ada, come back ! " and behold another 
unwilling bob ! Perhaps the good woman saw her Master s face 
behind the tinsel trappings and flaring lights. But she forgot His 
words. The saying to these little ones that has rung through 
centuries commanded liberty and not allegiance. I stood aside 
till they had shuffled into seats, and finally kneeling stayed till the 
brief spectacle of the afternoon was over. 


138 Passed 

Towards its close I looked away rrom the mumbling priest, 
whose attention, divided between inconvenient millinery and the 
holiest mysteries, was distracting mine. 

Two girls holding each other s hands came in and stood in 
deep shadow behind the farthest rows of high-backed chairs by the 
door. The younger rolled her head from side to side ; her shift 
ing eyes and ceaseless imbecile grimaces chilled my blood. The 
other, who stood praying, turned suddenly (the place but for the 
flaring altar lights was dark) and kissed the dreadful creature by 
her side. I shuddered, and yet her face wore no look of loath 
ing nor of pity. The expression was a divine one of habitual 

She wiped the idiot s lips and stroked the shaking hand in hers, 
to quiet the sad hysterical caresses she would not check. It was a 
page of gospel which the old man with his back to it might never 
read. A sublime and ghastly scene. 

Up in the little gallery the grey-habited nuns were singing a 
long Latin hymn of many verses, with the refrain " Oh ! Sacred 
Heart ! " I buried my face till the last vibrating chord of the 
accompaniment was struck. The organist ventured a plagal 
cadence. It evoked no "amen." I whispered one, and an acci 
dentally touched note shrieked disapproval. I repeated it. Then 
I spit upon the bloodless cheek of duty, and renewed my quest. 
This time it was for the satisfaction of my own tingling soul. 

I retook my unknown way. The streets were almost empty 
and thinly strewn with snow. It was still falling. I shrank from 
marring the spotless page that seemed outspread to challenge and 
exhibit the defiling print of man. The quiet of the muffled 
streets soothed me. The neighbourhood seemed lulled into un 
wonted rest. 

Black little figures lurched out of the white alleys in twos and 


By Charlotte M. Mew 139 

threes. But their childish utterances sounded less shrill than 
usual, and sooner died away. 

Now in desperate earnest I spared neither myself nor the incre 
dulous and dishevelled people whose aid I sought. 

Fate deals honestly with all. She will not compromise though 
she may delay. Hunger and weariness at length sent me home, 
with an assortment of embellished negatives ringing in my failing 

I had almost forgotten my strange experience, when, some months 
afterwards, in late spring, the wraith of that winter meeting appeared 
to me. It was past six o clock, and I had reached, ignorant of the 
ill-chosen hour, a notorious thoroughfare in the western part of this 
glorious and guilty city. The place presented to my unfamiliar 
eyes a remarkable sight. Brilliantly lit windows, exhibiting dazz 
ling wares, threw into prominence the human mart. 

This was thronged. I pressed into the crowd. Its steady and 
opposite progress neither repelled nor sanctioned my admittance. 
However, I had determined on a purchase, and was not to 
be baulked by the unforeseen. I made it, and stood for a moment 
at the shop-door preparing to break again through the rapidly 
thickening throng. 

Up and down, decked in frigid allurement, paced the insatiate 
daughters of an everlasting king. What fair messengers, with 
streaming eyes and impotently craving arms, did they send afar off 
ere they thus " increased their perfumes and debased themselves 
even unto hell " ? This was my question. I asked not who 
forsook them, speaking in farewell the "hideous English of their 

I watched coldly, yet not inapprehensive or a certain grandeur 
in the scene. It was Virtue s very splendid Dance of Death. 

A sickening 

1 40 Passed 

A sickening confusion of odours assailed my senses; each 
essence a vile enticement, outraging Nature by a perversion of her 
own pure spell. 

A timidly protesting fragrance stole strangely by. I started at 
its approach. It summoned a stinging memory. I stepped for 
ward to escape it, but stopped, confronted by the being who had 
shared, by the flickering lamp-light and in the presence of that 
silent witness, the poor little violet s prayer. 

The man beside her was decorated with a bunch of sister 
flowers to those which had taken part against him, months ago, in 
vain. He could have borne no better badge of victory. He was 
looking at some extravagant trifle in the window next the entry I 
had just crossed. They spoke, comparing it with a silver case he 
turned over in his hand. In the centre I noticed a tiny enamelled 
shield. The detail seemed familiar, but beyond identity. They 
entered the shop. I stood motionless, challenging memory, till it 
produced from some dim corner of my brain a hoarded " No." 

The device now headed a poor strip of paper on a dead girl s 
bed. I saw a figure set by death, facing starvation, and with ruin 
in torn fragments in her hand. But what place in the scene had 
I ? A brief discussion next me made swift answer. 

They were once more beside me. The man was speaking : 
his companion raised her face ; I recognised its outline, its true 
aspect I shall not know. Four months since it wore the mask 
of sorrow ; it was now but one of the pages of man s immortal 
book. I was conscious of the matchless motions which in the 
dim church had first attracted me. 

She was clothed, save for a large scarf of vehemently brilliant 
crimson, entirely in dull vermilion. The two shades might serve 
as symbols of divine and earthly passion. Yet does one ask the 
martyr s colour, you name it Red (and briefly thus her gar 
ment) : 

By Charlotte M. Mew 141 

ment) : no distinctive hue. The murderer and the prelate too 
may wear such robes of office. Both are empowered to bless and 

My mood was reckless. I held my hands out, craving mercy. 
It was my bitter lot to beg. My warring nature became unani 
mously suppliant, heedless of the debt this soul might owe me 
of the throes to which I left it, and of the discreditable marks 
of mine it bore. Failure to exact regard I did not entertain. 
I waited, with exhaustless fortitude, the response to my appeal. 
Whence it came I know not. The man and woman met my 
gaze with a void incorporate stare. The two faces were merged 
into one avenging visage so it seemed. I was excited. As 
they turned towards the carriage waiting them, I heard a laugh, 
mounting to a cry. It rang me to an outraged Temple. 
Sabbath bells peal sweeter calls, as once this might have done. 

I knew my part then in the despoiled body, with its soul s 
tapers long blown out. 

Wheels hastened to assail that sound, but it clanged on. 
Did it proceed from some defeated angel ? or the woman s 
mouth ? or mine ? God knows ! 

Sat est scripsisse 

By Austin Dobson 

To E. G., with a Volume of Essays 

WHEN you and I have wandered beyond the reach of call, 
And all our works immortal are scattered on the Stall, 
It may be some new Reader, in that remoter age, 
Will find this present volume, and listless turn the page. 

For him I write these Verses. And " Sir " (I say to him), 
"This little Book you see here this masterpiece of Whim, 
Of Wisdom, Learning, Fancy (if you will, please, attend), 
Was written by its Author, who gave it to his Friend. 

" For they had worked together, been Comrades ot the Pen ; 
They had their points at issue, they differed now and then ; 
But both loved Song and Letters, and each had close at heart 
The dreams, the aspirations, the dear delays of Art. 

" And much they talk d of Metre, and more they talked of Style, 
Of Form and lucid Order, of labour of the File ; 
And he who wrote the writing, as sheet by sheet was penned, 
(This all was long ago, Sir !) would read it to his Friend. 

" They 

By Austin Dobson 143 

u They knew not, nor cared greatly, if they were spark or star, 
They knew to move is somewhat, although the goal be far ; 
And larger light or lesser, this thing at least is clear, 
They served the Muses truly, their service was sincere. 

" This tattered page you see, Sir, is all that now remains 
(Yes, fourpence is the lowest !) of all those pleasant pains ; 
And as for him that read it, and as for him that wrote, 
No Golden Book enrolls them among its Names of Note. 

" And yet they had their office. Though they to-day are passed, 
They marched in that procession where is no first or last ; 
Though cold is now their hoping, though they no more aspire, 
They, too, had once their ardour : they handed on the fire." 

Three Stories 
By V., O., C.S. 

I Honi soit qui mal y pense 

By C. S. 

r~\ UT I m not very tall, am I ?" said the little book-keeper, 

[j coming close to the counter so as to prevent me from 
seeing that she was standing on tiptoe. 

" A p tite woman," said I, "goes straight to my heart." 

The book-keeper blushed and looked down, and began finger- 
ng a bunch of keys with one hand. 

" How is the cold ? " I asked. " You don t seem to cough so 
much to-day." 

" It always gets bad again at night," she answered, still looking 
down and playing with her keys. 

I reached over to them, and she moved her hand quickly away 
and clasped it tightly with the other. 

I picked up the keys : " Store-room, Cellar, Commercial 
Room, Office," said I, reading off the names on the labels 
" why, you seem to keep not only the books, but everything else 
as well." 

She turned away to measure out some whisky at the other 


By V., O., C.S. 145 

window, and then came back and held out her hand for the 

" What a pretty ring," I said ; " I wonder I haven t notice d 
it before. You can t have had it on lately." 

She looked at me fearfully and again covered her hand. 
Please give me my keys." 

" Yes, if I may look at the ring." 

The little book-keeper turned away, and slipping quietly on to 
her chair, burst into tears. 

I pushed open the door of the office and walked in. 

" What is it ? " I whispered, bending over her and gently 
smoothing her hair. 

" I I hate him ! " she sobbed. 

" Him ? Him ? " 

" Yes, the the ring man." 

I felt for the little hand among the folds or the inky table 
cloth, and stooped and kissed her forehead. " Forgive me, dear 
est " 

" Go away," she sobbed, " go away. I wish I had never seen 
you. It was all my fault : I left off wearing the ring on purpose, 

but he s coming here to-day and and we are so many at 

home and have so little money 

And as I went upstairs to pack I could see the little brown 
head bent low over the inky table-cloth. 

146 Three Stories 

II -A Purple Patch 

By O. 

IT was nearly half-past four. Janet was sitting in the drawing- 
room reading a novel and waiting for tea. She was in one of 
those pleasing moods when the ordinary happy circumstances of 
life do not pass unnoticed as inevitable. She was pleased to be 
living at home with her father and sister, pleased that her father 
was a flourishing doctor, and that she could sit idle in the drawing- 
room, pleased at the pretty furniture, at the flowers which she had 
bought in the morning. 

She seldom felt so. Generally these things did not enter her 
head as a joy in themselves ; and this mood never came upon her 
when, according to elderly advice, it would have been useful. In 
no trouble, greater small, could she gain comfort from remember 
ing that she lived comfortably ; but sometimes without any 
reason, as now, she felt glad at her position. 

When the parlour-maid came in and brought the lamp, Janet 
watched her movements pleasurably. She noticed all the ways of 
a maid in an orderly house : how she placed the lighted lamp on 
the table at her side, then went to the windows and let down the 
blinds and drew the curtains, then pulled a small table forward, 
spread a blue-edged cloth on it, and walked out quietly, pushing 
her cuffs up a little. 

She was pleased too with her novel, Miss Braddon s Asphodel. 
For some time she had enjoyed reading superior books. She knew 
that Asphodel vfv& bad, and saw its inferiority to the books which 


By V., O., C.S. 147 

she had lately read ; but that did not prevent her pleasure at being 
back with Miss Braddon. 

The maid came in and set the glass-tray on the table which she 
had just covered, took a box of matches from her apron pocket, lit 
the wick of the silver spirit-stove and left the room. Janet watched 
the whole proceeding with pleasure, sitting still in the arm-chair. 
Three soft raps on the gong and Gertrude appeared. She made the 
tea, and they talked. When they had finished, Gertrude sat at her 
desk and began to write a lettter, and still talking, Janet gradually 
let herself into her novel once more. There was plenty of the 
story left, she would read right on till dinner. 

They had finished talking for some minutes when they heard a 

" Oh, Gerty, suppose this is a visitor ! " Janet said, looking up 
from her book. 

Gertrude listened. Janet prayed all the time that it might not 
be a visitor, and she gave a low groan as she heard heavy steps 
upon the stairs. Gertrude s desk was just opposite the door, and 
directly the maid opened it she saw that the visitor was an 
awkward young man who never had anything to say. She ex 
changed a glance with Janet, then Janet saw the maid who 
announced, u Mr. Huddleston." 

And then she saw Mr. Huddleston. She laid her book down 
open on the table behind her, and rose to shake hands with him. 

Janet had one conversation with Mr. Huddleston music : they 
were very slightly acquainted, and they never got beyond that 
subject. She smiled at the inevitableness of her question as she 
asked : 

" Were you at the Saturday Afternoon Concert ? " 

When they had talked for ten minutes with some difficulty, 
Gertrude, who had finished her letter, left the room : she was 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. I engaged 

148 Three Stories 

engaged to be married, and was therefore free to do anything 
she liked. After a visit of half an hour Huddleston went. 

Janet rang the bell, and felt a little guilty as she took up the 
open book directly her visitor had gone. She did not know quite 
why, but she was dissatisfied. However, in a moment or two she 
was deep in the excitement of Asphodel. 

She read on for a couple of hours, and then she heard the 
carriage drive up to the door. She heard her father come into 
the house and go to his consulting-room, then walk upstairs to his 
bedroom, and she knew that in a few minutes he would be down 
in the drawing-room to talk for a quarter of an hour before dinner. 
When she heard him on the landing, she put away her book ; 
Gertrude met him just at the door ; they both came in together, 
and then they all three chatted. But instead of feeling in a con 
tented mood, because she had read comfortably, as she had intended 
all the afternoon, Janet was dissatisfied, as if the afternoon had 
slipped by without being enjoyed, wasted over the exciting 

And towards the end of dinner her thoughts fell back on an 
old trouble which had been dully threatening her. Gertrude 
was her father s favourite ; gay and pretty, she had never been 
difficult. Janet was more silent, could not amuse her father and 
make him laugh, and he was not fond of her. She would find 
still more difficulty when Gertrude was married, and she was 
left alone with him. His health was failing, and he was growing 
very cantankerous. She dreaded the prospect, and already the 
doctor was moaning to Gerty about her leaving, and she was 
making him laugh for the last time over the very cause of his 
dejection. Not that he would have retarded her marriage by a 
day ; he was extremely proud of her engagement to the son of the 
great Lady Beamish. 


By V., O., C.S. 149 

That thought had been an undercurrent of trouble ever since 
Gertrude s engagement, and she wondered how she could have 
forgotten it for a whole afternoon. Now she was as fully miserable 
as she had been content four hours before, and her trouble at the 
moment mingled with her unsatisfactory recollection of the 
afternoon, her annoyance at Mr. Huddleston s interruption, 
and the novel which she had taken up directly he had left the 


A year after Gertrude s marriage Dr. Worgan gave up his work 
and decided at last to carry out a cherished plan. One of his oldest 
friends was going to Algiers with his wife and daughter. The 
doctor was a great favourite with them ; he decided to sell his house 
in London, and join the party in their travels. The project had 
been discussed for a long time, and Janet foresaw an opportunity of 
going her own way. She was sure that her father did not want 
her. She had hinted at her wish to stay in England and work for 
herself; but she did not insist or trouble her father, and as he did 
not oppose her she imagined that the affair was understood. When 
the time for his departure drew close, Janet said something about 
her arrangements which raised a long discussion. Dr. Worgan 
expressed great astonishment at her resolution, and declared that 
she had not been open with him. Janet could not understand his 
sudden opposition ; perhaps she had not been explicit enough ; 
but surely they both knew what they wereabout, and it wasobviously 
better that they should part. 

They were in the drawing-room. Dr. Worgan felt aggrieved 
that the affair should be taken so completely out of his hands ; he 
had been reproaching her, and arguing for some time. Janet s 


150 Three Stories 

tone vexed him. She was calm, disinclined to argue, behaving as 
if the arrangement were quite decided : he would have been better 
pleased if she had cried or lost her temper. 

" It s very easy to say that ; but, after all, you re not independ 
ent. You say you want to get work as a governess ; but that s 
only an excuse for not going away with me." 

"You never let me do anything for you." 

" I don t ask you to. I never demand anything of you. I m 
not a tyrant ; but that s no reason why you should want to desert 
me ; you re the last person I have." 

Janet hated arguments and talk about affairs which were 
obviously settled. They had talked for almost an hour, they 
could neither of them gain anything from the conversation, and 
yet her father seemed to delight in prolonging it. She did not 
wish to defend her course. She would willingly have allowed her 
father to put her in the wrong, if only he had left her alone to do 
what both of them wanted. 

" You want to pose as a kind of martyr, I suppose. Your 
father hasn t treated you well, he only loved your sister ; you ve a 
grievance against him." 

" No, indeed ; you know it s not so." 

The impossibility of answering such charges, all the unnecessary 
fatigue, had brought her very near crying : she felt the lump in 
her throat, the aching in her breast. Be a governess ? Why, 
she would willingly be a factory girl, working her life out for a 
few shillings a week, if only she could be left alone to be straight 
forward. The picture of the girls with shawl and basket leaving the 
factory came before her eyes. She really envied them, and pictured 
herself walking home to her lonely garret, forgotten and in peace. 

" But that s how our relations and friends will look upon your 


By V., O., C.S. 151 

" Oh no," she answered, trying to smile and say something 
amusing after the manner of Gertrude ; "they will only shake 
their heads at their daughters and say, There goes another rebel 
who isn t content to be beautiful, innocent, and protected. " 

But Janet s attempts to be amusing were not successful with 
her father. 

" They won t at all. They ll say, At any rate her father is 
well off enough to give her enough to live upon, and not make 
her work as a governess." 

" We know that s got nothing to do with it. If I were depend 
ent, I should feel I d less right to choose " 

"But you re mistaken; that s not honesty, but egoism, on 
your part." 

Janet had nothing to answer ; there was a pause, as if her father 
wished her to argue the point. She thought, perhaps, she had 
better say something, else she would show too plainly that she 
saw he was in the wrong ; but she said nothing, and he went on : 
"And what will people say at the idea of you re being a gover 
ness ? Practically a servant in a stranger s house, with a pretence 
of equality, but less pay than a good cook. What will all our 
friends say ? " 

Janet did not wish to say to herself in so many words that her 
father was a snob. If he had left her alone, she would have been 
satisfied with the unacknowledged feeling that he attached import 
ance to certain things. 

" Surely people of understanding know there s no harm in being 
a governess, and I m quite willing to be ignored by any one who 
can t see that." 

These were the first words she spoke with any warmth. 

"Selfishness again. It s not only your concern: what will 
your sister think and feel about it ? " 

" Gerty 

152 Three Stories 

"Gerty is sensible enough to think as I do ; besides, she is very 
happy, and so has no right to dictate to other people about their 
affairs ; indeed, she won t trouble about it why should she ? I m 
not part of her." 

" You re unjust to Gertrude : your sister is too sweet and 
modest to wish to dictate to any one." 

"Exactly." Janet could not help saying this one word, and yet 
she knew that it would irritate her father still more. 

" And who would take you as a governess ? You don t find 
it easy to live even with your own people, and I don t know what 
you can teach. Perhaps you will reproach me as Laura did her 
mother, and say it was my fault you didn t go to Girton ? " 

" Oh, I think I can manage. My music is not much, I 
know ; but I think it s good enough to be useful." 

" Are you going to say that I was wrong in not encouraging 
you to train for a professional musician ? " 

" I hadn t the faintest notion of reproaching you for anything : 
it was only modesty." 

She knew that having passed the period when she might have 
cried, she was being fatigued into the flippant stage, and her 
father hated that above everything. 

" Now you re beginning to sneer in your superior way," 
Dr. Worgan said, walking up the room, " talking to me as if 
I were an idiot " 

He was interrupted by the maid who came in to ask Janet 
whether she could put out the light in the hall. Janet looked 
questioningly at her father, who had faced round when he heard 
the door open, and he said yes. 

"And, Gallant," Janet cried after her, and then went on in 
0. lower tone as she reappeared, " we shall want breakfast at eight 
to-morrow ; Dr. Worgan is going out early." 


By V., O., C.S. 153 

The door was shut once more. Her father seemed vexed at 
the interruption so welcome to her. 

Well, I never could persuade you in anything; but I resent 
the way in which you look on my advice as if it were selfish 
I m only anxious for your own welfare." 


In bed Janet lay awake thinking over the conversation. She 
had an instinctive dislike to judging any one, especially her father. 
Why couldn t people who understood each other remain satisfied 
with their tacit understanding, and each go his own way with 
out pretence ? She was sure her father did not really want her, 
he was only opposing her desertion to justify himself in his 
own eyes, trying to persuade himself that he did love her. If he 
had just let things take their natural course and made no 
objections against his better judgment, she would not have 
criticised him ; she had never felt aggrieved at his preference 
for Gertrude : it so happened that she was not sympathetic 
to him, and they both knew it. Over and over again as she lay 
in bed, she argued out all these points with herself. If he had 
said, " You re a good girl, you re doing the right thing ; I admire 
you, though we re not sympathetic," his humanity would have 
given her deep pleasure, and they might have felt more loving 
towards each other than ever before. Perhaps that was too 
much to expect ; but at any rate he might have left her alone. 
Anything rather than all this pretence, which forced her to 
criticise him and defend herself. 

But perhaps she had not given him a chance ? She knew that 
every movement and look of hers irritated him : if only she 
could have not been herself, he might have been generous. But 
then, as if to make up for this thought, she said aloud to herself: 

" Generosity, logic, and an objection to unnecessary talking 


154 Three Stories 

are manly qualities." And then she repented for becoming 

" But why must all the hateful things in life be defined and 
printed on one s mind in so many words ? I could face diffi 
culties quite well without being forced to set all the unpleas 
antnesses in life clearly out. And this makes me bitter." 

She was terribly afraid of becoming bitter. Bitterness was for 
the failures, and why should she own to being a failure ; surely 
she was not aiming very high? She was oppressed by the 
horrible fear of becoming old-maidish and narrow. Perhaps she 
would change gradually without being able to prevent, without 
even noticing the change. Every now and then she spoke her 
thoughts aloud. 

"I can t have taking ways : some people think I m superior 
and crushing, father says I m selfish ; " and yet she could not 
think of any great pleasures which she had longed for and 
claimed. Gerty had never hidden her wishes or sacrificed anything 
to others, and she always got everything she fancied ; yet she was 
not selfish. 

Then the old utter dejection came over her as she thought of 
her life ; if no one should love her, and she should grow old 
and fixed in desolation ? This was no sorrow at an unfortunate 
circumstance, but a dejection so far-reaching that its existence 
seemed to her more real than her own ; it must have existed in the 
world before she was born, it must have been since the beginning. 
The smaller clouds which had darkened her day were forced aside, 
and the whole heaven was black with this great hopelessness. If 
any sorrow had struck her, death, disgrace, crime, that would have 
been a laughing matter compared with this. 

Perhaps life would be better when she was a governess ; she 
would be doing something, moulding her own life, ill-treated with 


By V., O., C.S. 155 

actual wrongs perhaps. In the darkness of her heaven there 
came a little patch of blue sky, the hopefulness which was always 
there behind the cloud, and she fell asleep, dreamily looking forward 
to a struggle, to real life with possibilities dim pictures. 


A month afterwards, on a bitterly cold February day, Janet was 
wandering miserably about the house. She was to start in a few 
days for Bristol, where she had got a place as governess to two 
little girls, the daughters of a widower, a house-master at the 
school. Her father had left the day before. Janet could not help 
crying as she sat desolately in her cold bedroom trying to concern 
herself with packing and the arrangements for her journey. She 
was to dine that evening with Lady Beamish, to meet Gerty and 
her husband and say good-bye. She did not want to go a bit, she 
would rather have stayed at home and been miserable by herself. 
She had, as usual, asked nothing of any of her friends ; she felt 
extraordinarily alone, and she grew terrified when she asked 
herself what connected her with the world at all, how was she 
going to live and why ? What hold had she on life ? She might 
go on as a governess all her life and who would care ? What 
reason had she to suppose that anything would justify her living ? 
From afar the struggle had looked attractive, there was something 
fine and strong in it ; that would be life indeed when she would 
have to depend entirely upon herself and work her way ; but now 
that the time was close at hand, the struggle only looked very 
bitter and prosaic. In her imagination beforehand she had always 
looked on at herself admiringly as governess and been strengthened 


156 Three Stories 

by the picture. Now she was acting to no gallery. Whatever 
strength and virtue there was in her dealing met no one s approval ; 
and all she had before her in the immediate future was a horrible 
sense of loneliness, a dreaded visit, two more days to be occupied 
with details of packing, a cab to the station, the dull east wind, the 
journey, the leave-taking all the more exquisitely painful because 
she felt that no one cared. The sense of being neglected gave her 
physical pain all over her body until her finger-tips ached. How 
is it possible, she thought, that a human being in the world for 
only a few years can be so hopeless and alone ? 

In the cab on her way to Lady Beamish she began to think 
at once of the evening before her. She tried to comfort herself 
with the idea of seeing Gerty, sweet Gerty, who charmed every 
one, and what close friends they had been ! But the thought of 
Lady Beamish disturbed and frightened her. Lady Beamish 
was a very handsome woman of sixty, with gorgeous black hair 
showing no thread of white. She had been a great beauty, and a 
beauty about whom no one could tell any stories ; she had married 
a very brilliant and successful man, and seconded him most ably 
during his lifetime. Those who disliked her declared she was 
fickle, and set too much value on her social position. Janet had 
always fancied that she objected from the beginning to her second 
son^s engagement to Gertrude ; but there was no understanding 
her, and if Janet had been asked to point to some one who was 
radically unsimple, she would at once have thought of Lady 
Beamish. She had been told of many charming things which she 
had done, and she had heard her say the sweetest things ; but then 
suddenly she was stifF and unforgiving. There was no doubt 
about her cleverness and insight ; many of her actions showed 
complete disregard of convention, and yet, whenever Janet had 
seen her, she had always been lifted up on a safe height by her 


By V., O., C.S. 157 

own high birth, her dead husband s distinctions, her imposing 
appearance, and hedged round by all the social duties which she 
performed so well. Janet saw that Lady Beamish s invitation was 
kind ; but she was the last person with whom she would have 
chosen to spend that evening. But here she was at the door, 
there was no escape. 

Lady Beamish was alone in the drawing-room. "I m very 
sorry, I m afraid I ve brought you here on false pretences. I ve 
just had a telegram from Gertrude to say that Charlie has a cold. 
I suppose she s afraid it may be influenza, and so she s staying 
at home to look after him. And Harry has gone to the play, so 
we shall be quite alone." Janet s heart sank. Gerty had been 
the one consoling circumstance about that evening ; besides, Lady 
Beamish would never have asked her if Gerty had not been 
coming. How would she manage with Lady Beamish all alone ? 
She made up her mind to go as soon after dinner as she could. 

They talked about Gertrude ; that was a good subject for Janet, 
and she clung to it ; she was delighted to hear Lady Beamish praise 
her warmly. 

As they sat down to dinner Lady Beamish said : 

" You re not looking well, Janet ? " 

" I m rather tired," she answered lightly ; " I ve been troubled 
lately, the weight of the world - but I m quite well." 

Lady Beamish made no answer. Janet could not tell why she 
had felt an impulse to speak the truth, perhaps just because she 
was afraid of her, and gave up the task of feeling easy as hopeless. 
They talked of Gertrude again. Dinner was quickly finished. 
Instead of going back into the drawing-room, Lady Beamish took 
her upstairs into her own room. 

" I m sorry you have troubles which are making you thin and 
pale. At your age life ought to be bright and full of romance : 


158 Three Stories 

you ought to have no troubles at all. I heard that you weren t going 
to travel with your father, but begin work on your own account : 
it seems to me you re quite right, and I admire your courage." 

Janet was surprised that Lady Beamish should show so much 

" My courage somehow doesn t make me feel cheerful," Janet 
answered, laughing, " and I can t see anything hopeful in the 
future to look forward to " Why am I saying all this to 

her ? " she wondered. 

" No ? And the consciousness of doing right as an upholding 
power that is generally a fallacy. I think you are certainly 
right there." 

Janet looked at Lady Beamish, astonished and comforted to hear 
these words from the lips of an old experienced woman. 
" I am grateful to you for saying that ? ; 
"It must be a hard wrench to begin a new kind of life." 
" It s not the work or even the change which I mind ; if only 
there were some assurance in life, something certain and hopeful : 
I feel so miserably alone, acting on my own responsibility in the 

only way possible, and yet for no reason " 

" My poor girl " and she stretched out her arms. Janet rose 

from her chair and took both her hands and sat down on the foot 
stool at her feet. She looked up at her handsome face ; it seemed 
divine to her lighted by that smile, and the wrinkles infinitely 
touching and beautiful. There was an intimate air about the 

" You ve decided to go away to Bristol ? " 

" I thought I d be thorough : I might stay in London and get 

work ; a friend of mine is editor of a lady s paper, and I suppose 

she could give me something to do ; and there are other things I 

could do ; but that doesn t seem to me thorough enough " 


By V., O., C.S. 159 

The superiority of the older experienced women made the girl 
feel weak. She would have a joy in confessing herself. 

" I suppose it was chiefly Gerty s marriage which set me think 
ing I d better change. Until then Fd lived contentedly enough. 
I m easily occupied, and I felt no necessity to work. But when I 
was left alone with father, I began gradually to feel as if I couldn t 
go on living so, as if I hadn t the right ; nothing I ever did pleased 
him. And then I wondered what I was waiting for 

She looked up at Lady Beamish and saw her fine features set 
attentively to her story ; she could tell everything to such a face- 
all these things of which she had never spoken to any one. She 
looked away again. 

" Was I waiting to get married ? That idea tortured me. 
Why should ideas come and trouble us when they re untrue and 
bear no likeness to our character ? " 

She turned her head once more to glance at the face above 

" I looked into myself. Was it true of me that my only out 
look in life was a man, that that was the only aim of my life ? It 
wasn t necessary to answer the question, for it flashed into my 
mind with bitter truth that if I d been playing that game, I d 
been singularly unsuccessful, so I needn t trouble about the 

question " 

Astonished at herself, she moved her hand up, and Lady 
Beamish stretched out hers, and held the girl s hand upon her lap. 
Then, half ashamed of her frankness, she went on quickly and in 
a more ordinary tone : 

" Oh, that and everything else I was afraid of growing bitter. 
When my father threw up his work and decided to go to Algiers 
with his old friends, that seemed a good opportunity : I would do 
something for myself, you re justified if you work. It seemed 


160 Three Stories 

hopeful then ; but now the prospect is as hopeless and desolate as 

Janet saw the tears collecting in Lady Beamish s eyes, and her 
underlip beginning to quiver. Lady Beamish dared not kiss the 
girl for fear of breaking into tears : she stood up and went to 
wards the fire, and trying to conquer her tears said : " Seeing you 
in trouble makes all my old wounds break out afresh." 

Janet gazed in wonder at her, feeling greatly comforted. Lady 
Beamish put her hand on the girl s head as she sat before her and 
said smiling : " It s strange how one sorrow brings up another, 
and if you cry you can t tell for what exactly you re crying. 
As I hear you talk of loneliness, I m reminded of my own loneli 
ness, so different from yours. As long as my own great friend 
was living, there was no possibility of loneliness ; I was proud, I 
could have faced the whole world. But since he died, every year 
has made me feel the want of a sister or brother, some one of my 
own generation. I don t suppose you can understand what I 
mean. You say : You have sons, and many friends who love and 
respect you ; that s true, and, indeed, without my sons I should 
not live ; but they ve all got past me, even Harry, the youngest. 
I can do nothing more for them, and as years go by I grow less 
able to do anything for anybody; my energy leaves me, and I sit 
still and see the world in front of me, see men and women whom 
I admire, whose conduct I commend inwardly, but that is all. 
My heart aches sometimes for a companion of my own age who 
would sit still with me, who understands my ideas, who has no 
new object in view, who has done life and has been left behind 
too " 

" Extremes meet," she broke off. " I wish to comfort you, who 
are looking hopelessly forward, and all I can do is to show you an 
old woman s sorrow." 


By V., O., C.S. 161 

"But wait," she went on, sitting down, "let us be practical ; 
you needn t go back to-night, I ll tell some one to fetch your 
things. And will you let me try and help you ? I don t know 
whether I can ; but may I try ? Won t you stay a bit herewith 
me ? You would then have time to think over your plans ; it 
would do no harm, at any rate. Or, if you would prefer living 
alone, would you let me help you ? Sometimes it s easier to be 
indebted to strangers. Don t answer now, you know my offer is 
sincere, coming at this time ; you can think it over." 

She left her place and met the servant at the door, to give her 
the order for the fetching of Janet s things. She came back and 
stood with her hands behind her, facing Janet, who looked up to 
her from her stool, adoring her as if she were a goddess. 

" There s only one thing to do in life, to try and help those 
whom we can help ; but it s very difficult to help you young 
people," she said, drying her eyes ; " you generally want something 
we cannot give you." 

" You comforted me more than I can say. I never dreamed of 
the possibility of such comfort as you re giving me." 

Still standing facing Janet, she suddenly began : " I knew a 
girl a long time ago ; she was the most exquisite creature I ve ever 
seen. She was lovely as only a Jewess can be lovely : by her side 
English beauties looked ridiculous, as if their features had been 
thrown together by mistake a few days ago ; this girl s beauty was 
eternal, I don t know how else to describe her superiority. There 
was a harmony about her figure not as we have pretty figures 
but every movement seemed to be the expression of a magnificent 
nature. She had that strange look in her face which some Jews 
have, a something half humorous half pitiful about the eyebrows ; 
it was so remarkable in a young girl, as if an endless experience of 
the world had been born in her not that she was tired or blase ; 


I 62 Three Stories 

she wasn t at all one of those young people who have seen the 
vanity of everything, she was full of enthusiasm, fascinatingly 
fresh ; she was so capable and sensitive that nothing could be 
foreign or incomprehensible to her. I never saw any one so 
unerring ; I would have wagered the world that she could never 
be wrong in feeling. I never saw her misunderstand any one, 
except on purpose." 

Janet was rapt in attention, loving to hear this beauty s 
praises in the mouth of Lady Beamish. She kept her gaze 
fixed on the face, which now was turned towards her, now 
towards the fire. 

" At the time I remember some man was writing in the paper 
about the inferiority of women, and as a proof he said quite truly 
that there were no women artists except actresses. He happened 
to mention one or two well-known living artists whom I knew 
personally ; they weren t to be compared with this girl, and they 
would have been the first to say so themselves. She had no need 
to write her novels and symphonies ; she lived them. One would 
have said a person most wonderfully fitted for life. Oh, I 
could go on praising her for ever ; except once, I never fell 
so completely in love as I did with her. To see her dance 
and romp I hadn t realised before how a great nature can 
show itself in everything a person does. It is a joy to think 
of her. 

" One day she came to me, it was twenty years ago, I was a little 
over forty, she was just nineteen. She had fallen in love with a 
boy of her own age, and was in terrible difficulties with herself. I 
suppose it would have been more fitting if I d given her advice ; 
but I was so full of pity at the sight of this exquisite nature in 
torments that I could only try and comfort her and tell her above 
all things she inusn t be oppressed by any sense of her own 

wickedness ; 

By V., O., C.S. 163 

wickedness ; we all had difficulties of the same kind, and we couldn t 
expect to do more than just get along somehow as well as we 
could. I was angry with Fate that such a harmonious being had been 
made to jar with so heavy a strain. She had been free, and now she 
was to be confounded and brought to doubt. I don t think I can 
express it in words ; but I feel as if I really understood why she 
killed herself a few days later. She had come among us, a wonder, 
ignoring the littlenesses of life, or else making them worthy by 
the spirit in which she treated them, and the first strain of this 
dragging ordinary affliction bewildered her. Whether a little more 
experience would have saved her, or whether it was a superior flash 
of insight which prompted her to end her life at any rate it wasn t 
merely unreturned love which oppressed her." 

" And what was the man like ? " 

" He was quite a boy, and never knew she was in love with him ; 
in fact I can t tell how far she did love him. The older I grow the 
more certain I feel that this actual love wasn t deep ; but it was 
the sudden revelation of a whole mystery, a new set of difficulties, 
which confounded an understanding so far-reaching and superior. 
I remember her room distinctly ; she was unlike most women in 
this respect, she had no desire to furnish her own room and be sur 
rounded by pretty things of her own choice. She left the room 
just as it was when the family took the furnished house, with 
its very common ugly furniture, vile pictures on the walls, and 
things under glasses. She carried so much beauty with her, she 
didn t think her room worth troubling about. I always imagine 
that her room has never been entered or changed since her death : 
nothing stirs there, except in the summer a band of small flies 
dance their mazy quadrille at the centre of the ceiling. I re 
member how she used to lie on the sofa and wonder at them with 
her half-laughing, half-pathetic eyes." 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. K "And 

164 Three Stories 

" And what did her people think ? " 

" Her family adored her : they were nice people, very ordi 


There was a knock at the door and Henry appeared, red- 
cheeked and smelling of the cold street. Janet rose from her stool 
to shake hands with him : his entrance was an unpleasant inter 
ruption ; she thought that his mother too must feel something of 
the sort, although he was the one thing in the world she loved 

" How was your play, Harry ? " 
" Oh, simply wonderful." 
" Was the house pretty full ? " 

" Not very, though people were fairly enthusiastic ; but there 
was a fool of a girl sitting in front of us, I could have kicked her, 
she would go on laughing." 

"Perhaps she thought you were foolish for not laughing !" 
"But such a sloppy-looking person had no right to laugh." 
" Opinions differ about personal appearance." 
" Well, at any rate she had a dirty dress on ; the swan s-down 
round her cloak was perfectly black." 

" Ah, now your attack becomes more telling ! " 
Lady Beamish had not changed her position. When Henry 
left, Janet feared she might want to stop their confidential talk ; 
but she showed no signs of wishing to go to bed. 

" I wish boys would remain boys, and not grow older ; they 
never grow into such nice men, they don t fulfil their promise." 

She sat down once more, and went on to tell Janet 
another story, a love story. When Janet, happy as she had 
not been for months, kissed her and said good-night, she told 
her how glad she was that no one else had been with her that 


By V., O., C.S. 165 

Janet went to bed, feeling that the world was possible once 
more. Her mind was relieved of a great weight, she was wonder 
fully light-hearted, now that she rested weakly upon another s 
generosity, and was released from her egotistical hopelessness. She 
no longer had a great trouble which engrossed her thoughts, her 
mind was free to travel over the comforting circumstances of that 
evening : the intimate room, Lady Beamish s face with the tears 
gathering in her eyes, the confession she had made of her own 
loneliness, her offer of help which had made the world human 
again, her story and Henry s interruption, and the funny little 
argument between the mother and the son whom she adored ; and 
after that, Lady Beamish had still stayed talking, and had dropped 
into telling of love as willingly as any school-girl, only everything 
came with such sweet force from the woman with all that 
experience of life. Every point in the evening with Lady 
Beamish had gone to give her a deep-felt happiness ; hopes sprang 
up in her mind, and she soon fell asleep filled with wonder and 
pity, thinking of the lovely Jewess whom Lady Beamish had 
known and admired so long ago, when Janet herself was only 
five or six years old. 

The older woman lay awake many hours thinking over her own 
life, and the sorrows of this poor girl. 

Janet did not take Lady Beamish s offer, but went to Bristol, 
upheld by the idea that her friend respected her all the more for 
keeping to her plans. The first night at Bristol, in the room 
which was to be hers, she took out the old letter of invitation for 
that evening, and before she went to bed she kissed the signature 
" Clara Beamish " the Christian name seemed to bring them 
close together. 


1 66 Three Stones 

When she had overcome the strangeness of her surroundings, 
life was once more what it had always been ; there was no particular 
struggle, no particular hopefulness. She was cheerful for no 
reason on Monday, less cheerful for no reason on Wednesday. 
The correspondence with Lady Beamish, which she had hoped 
would keep up their friendship, dropped almost immediately ; the 
two letters she received from her were stiff, far off. Janet heard of 
her now and then, generally as performing some social duty. 
They met too a few times, but almost as strangers. 

But Janet always remembered that she had gained thecommenda- 
tion of the wonderful woman, and that she approved of her ; and 
she never forgot that evening, and the picture of Clara Beamish, 
exquisitely sympathetic, adorable. It stood out as a bright spot 
in life, nothing could change its value and reality. 

Ill Sancta Maria 

By V. 

^HE fire had grown black and smoky, and the room felt cold. 
1 It was about four o clock on a dark day in November. Black 
snow-fraught clouds had covered the sky since the dawn. They 
seemed to be saving up their wrath for the storm to come. A 
woman sat close to the fire with a child in her arms. From time 
to time she shuddered involuntarily. It was miserably cold. In 
the corner of the room a man lay huddled up in a confusion of 
rags and covers. He moaned from time to time. Suddenly 
the fire leaped into a yellow flame, which lit up the room and 
revealed all its nakedness and filth. The floor was bare, and 


By V., O., C.S. 167 

there were lumps of mud here and there on the boards, left 
by the tramp of heavy boots. There was a strip of paper that 
had come unfastened from the wall, and hung over in a large 
curve. It was black and foul, but here and there could be seen 
faintly a pattern of pink roses twined in and out of a trellis. 
There was no furniture in the room but the chair on which the 
woman sat. By the sick man s side was a white earthenware 
bowl, full of a mixture that gave out a strong pungent smell which 
pervaded the room. On the floor by the fireside was a black 
straw hat with a green feather and a rubbed velvet bow in it. 
The woman s face was white, and the small eyes were full of an 
intense despair. As the flame shot up feebly and flickered about 
she looked for something to keep alive the little bit of coal. She 
glanced at the heap in the corner which had become quiet, then, 
turning round, caught sight of the hat on the floor. She looked 
at it steadily for a minute between the flickers of the flame, 
then stooped down and picked it up. Carefully detaching the 
trimming from the hat, she laid it on the chair. Then she tore 
the bits of straw and lay them across each other over the little 
piece of coal. The fire blazed brightly for a few minutes after 
the straw had caught. It covered the room with a fierce light 
and the woman looked afraid that the sick man might be disturbed. 
But he was quiet as before. Almost mechanically she pulled a 
little piece of the burning straw from the fire and, shading it with 
her hand, stole softly to the other end of the room after depositing 
the child on the chair. 

She looked for some minutes at the figure stretched before 
her. He lay with his face to the wall. He was a long thin 
man, and it seemed to her as she looked that his length was 
almost abnormal. Holding the light that was fast burning to 
the end away from her, she stooped down and laid her finger 


1 68 Three Stories 

lightly on his forehead. The surface of his skin was cold 
as ice. She knew that he was dead. But she did not cry out. 
The eyes were filled with a look of bitter disappointment, and she 
dropped the bit of burning straw, and then, moving suddenly from 
her stooping posture, crushed out the little smouldering heap with 
her heel. She looked about the room for something ; then 
repeating a prayer to herself hurriedly, hastened to the child who 
had woke up and was crying and kicking the bars of the wooden 
chair. There was something in the contrast between the stillness 
of the figure in the corner and the noise made by the child that 
made the woman shiver. She took up the child in her arms, 
comforted him, and sat down before the fire. She was thinking 
deeply. So poor ! Scarcely enough to keep herself and the child 
till the end of the week, and then the figure in the corner ! 
For some time she puzzled and puzzled. The burning straw 
had settled into a little glowing heap. She rose and went to a little 
box on the mantel-piece, and, opening it, counted the few coins 
in it. Then she seemed to reckon for a few moments, and a 
look of determination came into her face. She put the child 
down again and went to the other end of the room. She stood a 
moment over the prostrate figure, and then stooped down and took 
off an old rag of a shawl and a little child s coat which lay over 
the dead man s feet. She paused a moment. Again she stooped 
down and stripped the figure of all its coverings, until nothing 
was left but the dull white nightshirt that the man wore. She 
put the bundle which she had collected in a little heap on the 
other side of the room. Then she came back, and with an almost 
superhuman effort reared the figure into an upright position 
against the wall. She looked round for a moment, gathered up 
the little bundle, and stole softly from the room. A few hours 
later she came back. There was a gas lamp outside the window, 


By V., O., C.S. 169 

and by the light of it she saw the child sitting at the feet of the 
figure, staring up at it stupidly. 

* * * 

Four days passed by, and still the figure stood against the wall. 
The woman had grown very white and haggard. She had only 
bought food enough for the child, and had scarce touched a 
morsel herself. It was Saturday. She was expecting a few pence 
for some matches which she had sold during the week. She was 
not allowed to take her money immediately, but had to hand it 
over to the owvner of the matches, who had told her that if she 
had sold a certain quantity by the end of the week she should 
be paid a small percentage. 

So she went out on this Saturday and managed to get rid of 
the requisite number, and carrying the money as usual to the 
owner, received a few pence commission. There was an eager 
look in her pale face as she hurried home and hastened to the 
box on the mantel-shelf. She emptied its contents into her 
hand, quickly counted up the total of her fortune, and then crept 
out again. 

It was snowing heavily, but she did not mind. The soft 
flakes fell on her weary face, and she liked their warm touch. 
She hurried along until she came to a tiny grocer s shop. The 
red spot on her cheeks deepened as she asked the shopkeeper for 
twelve candles -" Tall ones, please," she said in a whisper. She 
pushed the money on to the counter and ran away home with 
her parcel. Then she went up to the figure against the wall, 
and gently placed it on the ground, away from the wall. She 
opened the parcel and carefully stood up the twelve candles in 
a little avenue, six each side of the dead man. With a feverous 
excitement in her eyes she pulled a match from her pocket and 


170 Three Stories 

lit them. They burned steadily and brightly, casting a yellow 
light over the cold naked room, and over the blackened face of 
the dead man. The child that was rolling on the floor at the 
other end of the room uttered a coo of joy at the bright lights, 
and stretched out his tiny hands towards them. And the face 
of the mother was filled with a divine pleasure. 
The articles of her faith had been fulfilled. 

Three Pictures 

By P. Wilson Steer 

I. Portrait of Himself 
II. A Lady 
III. A Gentleman 

In a Gallery- 
Portrait of a Lady (Unknown) 

By Katharine de Mattos 

VEILED eyes, yet quick to meet one glance 
Not his, not yours, but mine, 
Lips that are fain to stir and breathe 

Dead joys (not love nor wine) : 
Tis not in you the secret lurks 

That makes men pause and pass ! 

Did unseen magic flow from you 
Long since to madden hearts, 
And those who loathed remain to pray 
And work their dolorous parts 
To seek your riddle, dread or sweet, 
And find it in the grave ? 

Till some one painted you one day, 
Perchance to ease his soul, 
And set you here to weave your spells 
While time and silence roll ; 
And you were hungry for the hour 
When one should understand ? 


178 In a Gallery 

Your jewelled fingers writhe and gleam 
From out your sombre vest ; 
Am I the first of those who gaze, 
Who may their meaning guess, 
Yet dare not whisper lest the words 
Pale even painted cheeks ? 

The Yellow Book 

A Criticism of Volume I 

By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, LL.D. 

I The Literature 

THE Editor and Publishers of THE YELLOW BOOK, who seem 
to know the value of originality in all things, have con 
ceived the entirely novel idea of publishing in the current number 
of their quarterly, a review in two parts of the number immediately 
preceding it, one part to deal with the literature, and another to 
criticise the illustrations. 

I notice that on the cover of THE YELLOW BOOK the literary 
contributions are described simply as " Letterpress." This seems 
rather unfortunate, because "letterpress" is usually understood 
to mean an inferior kind of writing, which is merely an accom 
paniment to something else, such as engravings, or even maps. 
Now, in THE YELLOW BOOK the principle seems to be that one 
kind of contribution should not be made subordinate to another ; 
the drawings and the writings are, in fact, independent. Certainly 
the writings are composed without the slightest pre-occupation 
concerning the work of the graphic artists, and the draughtsmen 
do not illustrate the inventions of the scribes. This independ 

180 The Yellow Book 

ence of the two arts is favourable to excellence in both, besides 
making the business of the Editor much easier, and giving him 
more liberty of choice. 

The literary contributions include poetry, fiction, short dramatic 
scenes, and one or two essays. The Editor evidently attaches 
much greater importance to creative than to critical literature, in 
which he is unquestionably right, provided only that the work 
which claims to be creative is inspired by a true genius for inven 
tion. The admission of poetry in more than usual quantity does 
not surprise us, when we reflect that THE YELLOW BOOK, is 
issued by a publishing house which has done more than any other 
for the encouragement of modern verse. It is the custom to 
profess contempt for minor poets, and all versifiers of our time 
except Tennyson and Swinburne are classed as minor poets by 
critics who shrink from the effort of reading metrical compo 
sitions. The truth is that poetry and painting are much more 
nearly on a level in this respect than people are willing to admit. 
Many a painter and many a poet has delicate perceptions and 
a cultivated taste without the gigantic creative force that is neces 
sary to greatness in his art. 

Mr. Le Gallienne s " Tree- Worship " is full of the sylvan 
sense, the delight in that forest life which we can scarcely help 
believing to be conscious. It contains some perfect stanzas and 
some magnificent verses. As a stanza nothing can be more 
perfect than the fourth on page 58, and the fourth on the pre 
ceding page begins with a rarely powerful line. The only weak 
points in the poem are a few places in which even poetic truth 
has not been perfectly observed. For example, in the first line 
on page 58, the heart of the tree is spoken of as being remarkable 
for its softness, a new and unexpected characteristic in heart of oak. 
On the following page the tree is described as a green and welcome 

"coast " 

By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, LL.D. 181 

"coast" to the sea of air. No single tree has extent enough to 
be a coast of the air-ocean ; at most it is but a tiny green islet 
therein. In the last stanza but one Mr. Le Gallienne speaks of 
" the roar of sap." This conveys the idea of a noisy torrent, 
whereas the marvel of sap is that it is steadily forced upwards 
through a mass of wood by a quietly powerful pressure. I dislike 
the fallacious theology of the last stanza as being neither scientific 
nor poetical. Mr. Benson s little poem, Acu/wow^oV^ofj is lightly 
and cleverly versified, and tells the story of a change of temper, 
almost of nature, in very few words. The note of Mr. Watson s 
two sonnets is profoundly serious, even solemn, and the work 
manship firm and strong ; the reader may observe, in the second 
sonnet, the careful preparation for the last line and the force with 
which it strikes upon the ear. Surely there is nothing frivolous 
or fugitive in such poetry as this ! I regret the publication of 
"Stella Maris," by Mr. Arthur Symons; the choice of the title 
is in itself offensive. It is taken from one of the most beautiful 
hymns to the Holy Virgin (Ave, maris Stella !), and applied to a 
London street-walker, as a star in the dark sea of urban life. We 
know that the younger poets make art independent of morals, and 
certainly the two have no necessary connection ; but why should 
poetic art be employed to celebrate common fornication ? Ros- 
setti s " Jenny " set the example, diffusely enough. 

The two poems by Mr. Edmund Gosse, "Alere Flammam " 
and "A Dream of November," have each the great quality of 
perfect unity. The first is simpler and less fanciful than the 
second. Both in thought and execution it reminds me strongly 
of Matthew Arnold. Whether there has been any conscious 
imitation or not, " Alere Flammam " is pervaded by what is best 
in the classical spirit. Mr. John Davidson s two songs are 
sketches in town and country, impressionist sketches well done in 

a laconic 

1 82 The Yellow Book 

a laconic and suggestive fashion. Mr. Davidson has a good 
right to maledict " Elkin Mathews & John Lane" for having 
revived the detestable old custom of printing catchwords at the 
lower corner of the page. The reader has just received the full 
impression of the London scene, when he is disturbed by the 
isolated word FOXES, which destroys the impression and puzzles 
him. London streets are not, surely, very favourable to foxes ! 
He then turns the page and finds that the word is the first in the 
rural poem which follows. How Tennyson would have growled 
if the printer had put the name of some intrusive beast at the foot 
of one of his poems ! Even in prose the custom is still intoler 
able ; it makes one read the word twice over as thus (pp. 159, 60), 
"Why doesn t the wretched publisher publisher bring it out ! " 

We find some further poetry in Mr. Richard Garnett s transla 
tions from Luigi Tansillo. Not having access just now to the 
original Italian, I cannot answer for their fidelity, but they are 
worth reading, even in English, and soundly versified. 

It is high time to speak of the prose. The essays are "A Defence 
of Cosmetics," by Mr. Max Beerbohm, and " Reticence in Litera 
ture," by Mr. Arthur Waugh. I notice that a critic in the New 
York Nation says that the Whistlerian affectations of Mr. Beerbohm 
are particularly intolerable. I understood his essay to be merely a 
jeu d 1 esprit^ and found that it amused me, though the tastes and 
opinions ingeniously expressed in it are precisely the opposite of 
my own. Mr. Beerbohm is (or pretends to be) entirely on the 
s ide of artifice against nature. The difficulty is to determine 
what is nature. The easiest and most " natural " manners of a 
perfect English lady are the result of art, and of a more advanced 
art than that indicated by more ceremonious manners. Mr. Beer 
bohm says that women in the time of Dickens appear to have 
been utterly natural in their conduct, " flighty, gushing, blushing, 


By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, LL.D. 183 

fainting, giggling, and shaking their curls." Much of that con 
duct may have been as artificial as the curls themselves, and 
assumed only to attract attention. Ladies used to faint on the 
slightest pretext, not because it was natural but because it was the 
fashion ; when it ceased to be the fashion they abandoned the 
practice. Mr. Waugh s essay on " Reticence in Literature " is 
written more seriously, and is not intended to amuse. He defends 
the principle of reticence, but the only sanction that he finds for 
it is a temporary authority imposed by the changing taste of the 
age. We are consequently never sure of any permanent law that 
will enforce any reticence whatever. A good proof of the extreme 
laxity of the present taste is that Mr. Waugh himself has been 
able to print at length three of the most grossly sensual stanzas in 
Mr. Swinburne s " Dolores." Reticence, however, is not con 
cerned only with sexual matters. There is, for instance, a flagrant 
want of reticence in the lower political press of France and 
America, and the same violent kind of writing, often going as far 
beyond truth as beyond decency, is beginning to be imitated in 
England. One rule holds good universally ; all high art is reticent, 
e.g., in Dante s admirable way of telling the story of Francesca 
through her own lips. 

Mr. Henry James, in " The Death of the Lion," shows his usual 
elegance of style, and a kind of humour which, though light enough 
on the surface, has its profound pathos. It is absolutely essential, 
in a short story, to be able to characterise people and things in a 
very few words. Mr. James has this talent, as for example in his 
description of the ducal seat at Bigwood : " very grand and frigid, 
all marble and precedence." We know Bigwood, after that, as if 
we had been there and have no desire to go. So of the Princess : 
"She has been told everything in the world and has never per 
ceived anything, and the echoes of her education" etc., p. 42. The 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. L moral 

184 The Yellow Book 

moral of the story is the vanity and shallowness of the world s 
professed admiration for men of letters, and the evil, to them, or 
going out of their way to suck the sugar-plums of praise. The 
next story, "Irremediable," shows the consequences of marrying a 
vulgar and ignorant girl in the hope of improving her, the diffi 
culty being that she declines to be improved. The situation is 
powerfully described, especially the last scene in the repulsive, 
disorderly little home. The most effective touch reveals 
Willoughby s constant vexation because his vulgar wife "never 
did any one mortal thing efficiently or well," just the opposite of 
the constant pleasure that clever active women give us by their 
neat and rapid skill. "The Dedication," by Mr. Fred Simpson, 
is a dramatic representation of the conflict between ambition and 
love not that the love on the man s side is very earnest, or the 
conflict in his mind very painful, as ambition wins the day only 
too easily when Lucy is thrown over. " The Fool s Hour," by 
Mr. Hobbes and Mr. George Moore, is a slight little drama 
founded on the idea that youth must amuse itself in its own 
way, and cannot be always tied to its mamma s apron-strings. It 
is rather French than English in the assumption that youth must 
of necessity resort to theatres and actresses. Of the two sketches 
by Mr. Harland, that on white mice is clever as a supposed remini 
scence of early boyhood, but rather long for its subject, the other, 
" A Broken Looking-Glass," is a powerful little picture of the 
dismal end of an old bachelor who confesses to himself that his 
life has been a failure, equally on the sides of ambition and enjoy 
ment. One of my friends tells me that it is impossible for a 
bachelor to be happy, yet he may invest money in the Funds ! In 
Mr. Crackanthorpe s " Modern Melodrama," he describes ( for us 
the first sensations of a girl when she sees death in the near 
future. It is pathetic, tragical, life-like in language, with the 


By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, LL.D. 185 

defects of character and style that belong to a close representation 
of nature. " A Lost Masterpiece," by George Egerton, is not so 
interesting as the author s " Keynotes," though it shows the same 
qualities of style. The subject is too unfruitful, merely a literary 
disappointment, because a bright idea has been chased away. 
" A Sentimental Cellar," by Mr. George Saintsbury, written in 
imitation of the essayists of the eighteenth century, associates the 
wines in a cellar with the loves and friendships of their owner. 
Xo others the vinous treasures would be " good wine and nothing 
more " ; to their present owner they are " a casket of magic liquors," 
a museum in which he lives over again " the vanished life of the 
past." The true French bookless bourgeois often calls his cellar 
his bibliothlque^ meaning that he values its lore as preferable to that 
of scholarship ; but Mr. Saintsbury s Falernianus associates his 
wines with sentiment rather than with knowledge. 

On the whole, the literature in the first number of THE 
YELLOW BOOK, is adequately representative of the modern English 
literary mind, both in the observation of reality and in style. It 
is, as I say, really literature and not letterpress. I rather regret, 
for my own part, the general brevity of the pieces which restricts 
them to the limits of the sketch, especially as the stories cannot be 
continued after the too long interval of three months. As to this, 
the publishers know their own business best, and are probably 
aware that the attention of the general public, though easily 
attracted, is even more easily fatigued. 

1 86 The Yellow Book 

II The Illustrations 

ON being asked to undertake the second part of this critical 
article, I accepted because one has so rarely an opportunity of 
saying anything about works of art to which the reader can quite 
easily refer. Xo review an exhibition of pictures in London or Paris 
is satisfactory only when the writer imagines himself to be address 
ing readers who have visited it, and are likely to visit it again. 
When an illustration appears in one of the art periodicals, it may 
be accompanied by a note that adds something to its interest, but 
no one expects such a note to be really critical. In the present 
instance, on the contrary, we are asked to say what we think, 
without reserve, and as we have had nothing to do with the choice 
of the contributors, and have not any interest in the sale of the 
periodical, there is no reason why we should not. 

To begin with the cover. The publishers decided not to have 
any ornament beyond the decorative element in the figure design 
which is to be changed for every new number. What is per 
manent in the design remains, therefore, of an extreme simplicity 
and does not attract attention. The yellow colour adopted is 
glaring, and from the aesthetic point of view not so good as a quiet 
mixed tint might have been ; however, it gives a title to the 
publication and associates itself so perfectly with the title that it 
has a sufficient raison d etre, whilst it contrasts most effectively 
with black. Though white is lighter than any yellow, it has not the 
same active and stimulating quality. The drawing of the masquers 
is merely one of Mr. Aubrey Beardsley s fancies and has no par 
ticular signification. We see a plump and merry lady laughing 


By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, LL.D. 187 

boisterously whilst she seems to be followed by a man who gazes 
intently upon the beauties of her shoulder. It is not to be classed 
amongst the finest of Mr. Beardsley s designs, but it shows some 
of his qualities, especially his extreme economy of means. So does 
the smaller drawing on the back or the volume, which is a fair 
example of his ready and various invention. See how the candle- 
flame is blown a little to one side, how the candle gutters on that 
side, and how the smoke is affected by the gust of air. Observe, 
too, the contrasts between the faces, not that they are attractive 
faces. There seems to be a peculiar tendency in Mr. Beardsley s 
mind to the representation of types without intellect and without 
morals. Some of the most dreadful faces in all art are to be found 
in the illustrations (full of exquisite ornamental invention) to Mr. 
Oscar Wilde s " Salome." We have two unpleasant ones here in 
" 1 Education Sentimentale." There is distinctly a sort of corrup 
tion in Mr. Beardsley s art so far as its human element is concerned, 
but not at all in its artistic qualities, which show the perfection of 
discipline, of self-control, and of thoughtful deliberation at the very 
moment of invention. Certainly he is a man of genius, and 
perhaps, as he is still very young, we may hope that when he has 
expressed his present mood completely, he may turn his thoughts 
into another channel and see a better side of human life. There 
is, of course, nothing to be said against the lady who is touching 
the piano on the title-page of THE YELLOW BOOK, nor against 
the portrait of Mrs. Patrick Campbell opposite page 126, except 
that she reminds one of a giraffe. It is curious how the idea of 
extraordinary height is conveyed in this drawing without a single 
object for comparison. I notice in Mr. Beardsley s work a persistent 
tendency to elongation ; for instance, in the keys of the piano on 
the title-page which in their perspective look fifteen inches long. 
He has a habit, too, of making faces small and head-dresses enor 

The Yellow Book 

mous. The rarity of beauty in his faces seems in contradiction 
with his exquisite sense of beauty in curving lines, and the 
singular grace as well as rich invention of his ornaments. He 
can, however, refuse himself the pleasure of such invention when 
he wants to produce a discouraging effect upon the mind. See, 
for instance, the oppressive plainness of the architecture in the 
background to the dismal " Night Piece." 

It is well known that the President of the Royal Academy, 
unlike most English painters, is in the habit of making studies. 
In his case these studies are uniformly in black and white chalk on 
brown paper. Two of them are reproduced in THE YELLOW 
BOOK, one being for drapery, and the other for the nude form 
moving in a joyous dance with a light indication of drapery that 
conceals nothing. The latter is a rapid sketch of an intention and 
is full of life both in attitude and execution, the other is still and 
statuesque. Sir Frederic is a model to all artists in one very rare 
virtue, that of submitting himself patiently, in his age, to the same 
discipline which strengthened him in youth. 

I find a curious and remarkable drawing by Mr. Pennell of that 
strangely romantic place Le Puy en Velay, whose rocks are crowned 
with towers or colossal statues, whilst houses cluster at their feet. 
The subject is dealt with rather in the spirit of Diirer, but with a 
more supple and more modern kind of skill. It is topography, 
though probably with considerable artistic liberty. I notice one 
of Diirer s licences in tonic relations. The sky, though the sun is 
setting (or rising) is made darker than the hills against it, and 
darker even than the two remoter masses of rock which come 
between us and the distance. The trees, too, are shaded capri 
ciously, some poplars in the middle distance being quite dark whilst 
nearer trees are left without shade or local colour. In a word, 
the tonality is simply arbitrary, and in this kind of drawing it 


By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, LL.D. i 

matters very little. Mr. Pennell has given us a delightful bit of 
artistic topography showing the strange beauty of a place that he 
always loves and remembers. 

Mr. Sickert contributed two drawings. " The Old Oxford 
Music Hall" has some very good qualities, especially the most 
important quality of all, that of making us feel as if we were 
there. The singer on the stage (whose attitude has been very 
closely observed) is strongly lighted by convergent rays. According 
to my recollection the rays themselves are much more visible in 
reality than they are here, but it is possible that the artist may 
have intentionally subdued their brightness in order to enhance 
that of the figure itself. The musicians and others are good, 
except that they are too small, if the singing girl (considering her 
distance) is to be taken as the standard of comparison. The 
pen-sketch of "A Lady Reading" is not so satisfactory. I know, 
of course, that it is offered only as a very slight and rapid sketch, 
and that it is impossible, even for a Rembrandt, to draw accurately 
in a hurry, but there is a formlessness in some important parts of 
this sketch (the hands, for instance) which makes it almost without 
interest for me. It is essentially painter s pen work, and does not 
show any special mastery of pen and ink. 

The very definite pen-drawing by Mr. Housman called "The 
Reflected Faun " is open to the objection that the reflections in 
the water are drawn with the same hardness as the birds and faun 
in the air. The plain truth is that the style adopted, which in its 
own way is as legitimate as any other, does not permit the artist to 
represent the natural appearance of water. This kind of pen- 
drawing is founded on early wood-engraving which filled the whole 
space with decorative work, even to the four corners. 

Mr. Rothenstein is a modern of the moderns. His two slight 
portrait-sketches are natural and easy, and there is much life in the 

" Portrait 

190 The Yellow Book 

" Portrait of a Gentleman." The " Portrait of a Lady," by Mr. 
Furse, is of a much higher order. It has a noble gravity, and it 
shows a severity of taste not common in the portraiture of our 
time ; it is essentially a distinguished work. Mr. Nettleship gives 
us an ideal portrait of Minos, not in his earthly life, as king of 
Crete, but in his infernal capacity as supreme judge of the dead. 
The face is certainly awful enough and implacable ; 

Stavvi Minos orribilmente, e ringhia : 
Esamina le colpe nell entrata ; 
Giudica e manda, secondo ch avvinghia. 

The book-plate designed by Mr. Beardsley for Dr. Propert has 
the usual qualities of the inventor. It seems to tell a tale of hope 
less love. The other book-plate, by Mr. Aiming Bell, is remark 
able for its pretty and ingenious employment of heraldry which 
so easily becomes mechanical when the draughtsman is not an 

On the whole, these illustrations decidedly pre-suppose real 
artistic culture in the public. They do not condescend in any 
way to what might be guessed at as the popular taste. I notice 
that the Editor and Publishers have a tendency to look to young 
men of ability for assistance in their enterprise, though they accept 
the criticism of those who now belong to a preceding generation. 

Portrait of Henry James 

By John S. Sargent, A.R.A. 



By Ronald Campbell Macfie 

"In the first dream that comes with the first sleep 
I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart " 

UNWORTHY ! yea, 
So high thou art above me 
I hardly dare to love thee, 
But kneel and lay 
All homage and all worship at thy feet, 

lady sweet ! 

Yet dreams are strong : 

Their wordless wish suffices 

To win them Paradises 

Of sun and song. 

Delight our waking life can never know 

The dreams bestow. 

And in a dream, 

Dupe of its bold beguiling, 

1 watch thy blue eyes smiling ; 
I see them gleam 


196 Dreams 

With love the waking moments have forbidden, 
And veiled and hidden. 

O brave deceit ! 

In dreams thy glad eyes glisten, 

In dreams I lie and listen 

Thy bosom beat, 

Hiving hot lips among thy temple-hair, 

lady fair ! 

And tho I live, 

Dreaming in such fair fashion, 

1 think, in thy compassion, 
Thou wilt forgive, 

Since I but dream, and since my heart will ache 
When I awake. 

Madame Rejane 

By Dauphin Meunier 

A FABULOUS being, in an everyday human form ; a face, not 
beautiful, scarcely even pretty, which looks upon the world 
with an air at once ironical and sympathetic ; a brow that grows 
broader or narrower according to the capricious invasions of her 
aureole of hair; an odd little nose, perked heavenward; two 
roguish eyes, now blue, now black ; the rude accents of a street- 
girl, suddenly changing to the well-bred murmuring of a great 
lady ; abrupt, abundant gestures, eloquently finishing half-spoken 
sentences ; a supple neck a slender, opulent figure a dainty foot, 
that scarcely touches the earth and yet can fly amazingly near 
the ceiling ; lips, nervous, senuous, trembling, curling ; a frock, 
simple or sumptuous, bought at a bargain or created by a Court- 
dressmaker, which expresses, moulds, completes, and sometimes 
almost unveils the marvellous creature it envelops ; a gay, a grave 
demeanour ; grace, wit, sweetness, tartness ; frivolity and earnest 
ness, tenderness and indifference ; beauty without beauty, im 
morality without evil : a nothing capable of everything : such is 
Woman at Paris : such is the Parisienne : and Madame Rejane is 
the Parisienne, is all Parisiennes, incarnated. 

What though our Parisienne be the daughter of a hall-porter, 
what though she be a maid-servant, a courtesan, or an arch-duchess, 


198 Madame Rejane 

she goes everywhere, she is the equal of every one, she knows or 
divines everything. No need for her to learn good manners, nor 
bad ones : she s born with both. According to the time or place, 
she will talk to you of politics, of art, of literature of dress, trade, 
cookery of finance, of socialism, of luxury, of starvation with the 
patness, the sure touch, the absolute sincerity, of one who has seen 
all, experienced all, understood all. She s as sentimental as a song, 
wily as a diplomate, gay as folly, or serious as a novel by Zola. 
What has she read ? Where was she educated ? Who cares ? 
Her book of life is Paris ; she knows her Paris by heart ; and 
whoso knows Paris can dispense with further knowledge. She 
adores originality and novelty, but she can herself transmute the 
commonplace into the original, the old into the new. Whatever 
she touches forthwith reflects her own animation, her mobility, her 
elusive charm. Flowers have no loveliness until she has grouped 
them ; colours are colourless unless they suit her complexion. 
Delicately fingering this or that silken fabric, she decrees which 
shall remain in the darkness of the shops, which shall become the 
fashion of the hour. She crowns the poet, sits to the painter, 
inspires the sculptor, lends her voice to the musician ; and not 
one of these artists can pretend to talent, if it be her whim to 
deny it him. She awards fame and wealth, success and failure, 
according to her pleasure. 

Madame Rejane the Parisienne : they are interchangeable 
terms. Whatever role she plays absorbs the attention of all Paris. 
Hearken, then, good French Provincials, who would learn the 
language of the Boulevards in a single lesson ; hearken, also, ye 
children of other lands who are eager for our pleasures, and 
curious about our tastes and manners ; hearken all people, men 
and women, who care, for once in a way, to behold what of all 
Parisian things is most essentially Parisian : Go and see Rejane. 

Don t 

By Dauphin Meunier 199 

Don t go to the Op6ra, where the music is German ; nor to the 
Opra-Comique, where it is Italian ; nor yet to the Comdie- 
Franfaise, where the sublime is made ridiculous, and the heroes 
and heroines of Racine take on the attitudes of bull-fighters and 
cigarette-makers ; nor to the Oddon, nor to the Palais-Royal, nor 
here, nor there, nor elsewhere : go and see Re"jane. Be she at 
London, Chicago, Brussels, St. Petersburg Rejane is Paris. She 
carries the soul of Paris with her, wheresoever she listeth. 

A Parisienne, she was born in Paris ; an actress, she is the 
daughter of an actor, and the niece of Madame Aptal-Arnault, 
sometime pennonnalre of the Comedie-Francaise. Is it a sufficent 
pedigree ? Her very name is suggestive ; it seems to share in the 
odd turn of her wit, the sauciness of her face, the tang of her 
voice ; for Rdjane s real name is Reju. Doesn t it sound like a 
nick-name, especially invented for this child of the greenroom ? 
" Re"jane " calls up to us the fanciful actress fanciful, but 
studious, conscientious, impassioned for her art ; " Madame 
Rejane" has rather a grand air; but R6ju makes such a funny 
face at her. 

I picture to myself the little Reju, scarcely out of her cradle, 
but already cunningly mischievous, fired with an immense curiosity 
about the world behind the scenes, and dreaming of herself as 
leading lady. She hears of nothing, she talks of nothing, but the 
Theatre. And presently her inevitable calling, her manifest destiny, 
takes its first step towards realisation. She is admitted into the 
class of Regnier, the famous socihaire of the Thdatre-Francais. 
Thenceforth the pupil makes steady progress. In 1873, at the 
age of fifteen, she obtains an honourable mention for comedy at 
the Conservatoire ; the following year she divides a second prize 
with Mademoiselle Samary. But what am I saying ? Only a 
second prize ? Let us see. 


2OO Madame Rejane 

To-day, as then, though twenty years have passed, there is no 
possibility of success, no chance of getting an engagement, for a 
pupil on leaving the Conservatoire, unless a certain all-powerful 
critic, supreme judge, arbiter beyond appeal, sees fit to pronounce 
a decision confirming the verdict of the Examining Jury. This 
extraordinary man holds the future of each candidate in the palm 
of his fat and heavy hand. Fame and fortune are contained in 
his inkstand, and determined by his articles. He is both Pope 
and King. The Jury proposes, he disposes. The Jury reigns, 
he governs. He smiles or frowns, the Jury bows its head. The 
pupils tremble before their Masters ; the Masters tremble before 
this monstrous Fetich, for the Public thinks with him and by 
him, and sees only through his spectacles ; and no star can shine 
till his short sight has discovered it. 

This puissant astronomer is Monsieur Francisque Sarcey. 

Against his opinion the newspapers can raise no voice, for he 
alone edits them all. He writes thirty articles a day, each of 
which is thirty times reprinted, thrice thirty times quoted from. 
He is, as it were, the Press in person. And presently the 
momentous hour arrived when the delicate and sprightly pupil of 
Regnier was to appear before this enormous and somnolent mass, 
and to thrill it with pleasure. For Monsieur Sarcey smiled upon 
and applauded Rejane s debut at the Conservatoire. He conse 
crated to her as many as fifty lines of intelligent criticism ; and I 
pray Heaven they may be remembered to his credit on the Day 
of Judgment. Here they are, in that twopenny-halfpenny style 
of his, so dear to the readers of Le Temps. 

" I own that, for my part, I should have willingly awarded to the 
latter (Mademoiselle Rejane) a first prize. It seems to me that she 
deserved it. But the Jury is frequently influenced by extrinsic and 


By Dauphin Meunier 201 

private motives, into which it is not permitted to pry. A first prize 
carries with it the right of entrance into the Comedie Franchise ; and 
the Jury did not think Mademoiselle Rejane, with her little wide 
awake face, suited to the vast frame of the House of Moliere, That 
is well enough ; but the second prize, which it awarded her, authorises 
the Director of the Odeon to receive her into his Company ; and that 
perspective alone ought to have sufficed to dissuade the Jury from the 

course it took Every one knows that at present the Odeon is, 

for a beginner, a most indifferent school Instead of shoving its 

promising pupils into it by the shoulders, the Conservatoire should 
forbid them to approach it, lest they should be lost there. What will 
Mademoiselle Rejane do at the Odeon ? Show her legs in La Jeunesse 
de Louis XI f,, which is to be revived at the opening of the season ! 
A pretty state of things. She must either go to the Vaudeville or to 
the Gymnase. It is there that she will form herself; it is there that 
she will learn her trade, show what she is capable of, and prepare 

herself for the Comedie Fran$aise, if she is ever to enter it She 

recited a fragment from Les Trots Sultanes .... I was delighted by 

her choice. The Trots Sultanes is so little known nowadays 

What wit there is in her look, her smile ! With her small eyes, 
shrewd and piercing, with her little face thrust forward, she has so 
knowing an air, one is inclined to smile at the mere sight of her. Does 
she perhaps show a little too much assurance ? What of it ? Tis the 
result of excessive timidity. But she laughs with such good grace, she 
has so fresh and true a voice, she articulates so clearly, she seems so 
happy to be alive and to have talent, that involuntarily one thinks of 
Chenier s line : 

Sa bienvenue au jour lui rlt dans tous les yeux. 

.... I shall be surprised if she does not make her way." 

Praised be Sarcey ! That was better than a second prize for 

Rejane. The Oracle gave her the first, without dividing it. She 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. M got 

202 Madame Rejane 

got an immediate engagement ; and in March, 1875, appeared 
on that stage where to-day she reigns supreme, the Vaudeville, 
to which she brought back the vaudeville that was no longer 
played there. She began by alienating the heart of Alphonse 
Daudet, who, while recognising her clever delivery, found fault 
with her unemotional gaiety ; but, in compensation, another 
authoritative critic, Auguste Vitu, wrote, after the performance 
of Pierre : " Mademoiselle Reiane showed herself full of grace 
and feeling. She rendered Gabrielle s despair with a naturalness, 
a brilliancy, a spontaneity, which won a most striking success." 

Shall I follow her through each of her creations, from her dbut 
in La Revuf des Dcux-Mondes, up to her supreme triumph in 

.? dame Bans-Gene ? Shall I show her as the sly soubrette in 
Fanny Lear ? as the woman in love, " whose ignorance divines all 
things," in Madame LIU? as the comical Marquise de Menu- 
Castel in Le f ergla; ? Shall I tell of her first crowning success, 
when she played Gabrielle in Pi. Shall I recall her stormy 

interpretation of Madame de Librae, in Le Ciur r and her dramatic 
conception of the part of Ida r which quite reversed the previous 
iudgments of her critics, wringing praise from her enemy Dauc I 
and censure from her faithful admirer Vitu. The natural order 
of things, however, was re-established by her performance of - 
Tapageurs ; again Daudet found her cold and lacking in tender 
ness : and Vitu again applauded. 

Her successes at the Vaudeville extend from 1875 to 1882 ; and 
towards the end of that period, Rejane, always rising higher in 
her art, created Anita in VAurhh, and the Baronne d Oria in 

:ttc. Next, forgetting her own traditions, she appeared at the 
Theatre des Panoramas, and at the An -. . here she gave a 

splendid interpretation of Madame Cezambre in Richepin s La 
Giu j and at Les Varietes as Adrienne in Me Can.. Now 


By Dauphin Meunier 203 

fickle, now constant to her first love, she alternated between 
the Varietes and the Vaudeville ; took an engagement at the 
Ode"on ; assisted at the birth and death of the Grand-Theltre ; 
and just lately the Vaudeville has won her back once more. 

Amidst these perambulations, Rejane played the diva in Clara 
Soldi. The following year she had to take two different parts in 
the same play, those of Gabrielle and Clicquette in Les Demoiselles 
Clochart. Gabrielle is a cold and positive character ; Clicquette a 
gay and mischievous one. Rdjane kept them perfectly distinct, 
and without the smallest apparent effort. In 1887, she telephoned 
in Allo-AHo^ and represented so clearly, by means of clever mimicry, 
the absurd answers of the apparatus, that from the gallery to the 
stalls the theatre was one roar of laughter and applause ; I fancy the 
salvoes and broadsides must still sometimes echo in her delicate ears. 

Re"jane s part in M. de Moral should not be forgotten ; nor above 
all, the inimitable perfection of her play in Decore (1888). Sarcey s 
exultation knew no bounds when, in 1890, she again appeared 
in this role. Time, that had metamorphosed the lissom critic of 
1875 into a round and inert mass of solid flesh, cruel Father 
Time, gave back to Sarcey, for this occasion only, a flash of youthful 
fire, which stirred his wits to warmth and animation. He shouted 
out hardly articulate praise ; he literally rolled in his stall with 
pleasure ; his bald head blushed like an aurora borealis. " Look 
at her ! " he cried, " see her malicious smiles, her feline graces, 
listen to her reserved and biting diction ; she is the very essence 
of the Parisienne ! What an ovation she received ! How they 
applauded her ! and how she played ! " From M. Sarcey the 
laugh spreads ; it thaws the scepticism of M. Jules Lemaitre, 
engulfs the timidity of the public, becomes unanimous and 
universal, and is no longer to be silenced. 

In 1888, M. Edmond de Goncourt entrusted Rejane with the 


204 Madame Rejane 

part of Germinie Lacerteux. On the first night, a furious battle 
against the author was waged in the house. Rejane secured the 
victory sans peur et sans reproches. 

Everything in her inspires the certitude of success ; her 
voice aims at the heart, her gestures knock at it. Rejane 
confides all to the hazard of the dice ; her sudden attacks are 
of the most dare-devil nature ; and no matter how risky, how 
dangerous, how extravagant the jump, she never loses her 
footing ; her play is always correct, her handling sure, her 
coolness imperturbable. It was impossible to watch her precipi 
tate herself down the staircase in La Glu without a tremble. 
And fifteen years before Yvette Guilbert, it was Rejane who first 
had the audacity to sing with a voice that was no voice, making 
wit and gesture more than cover the deficiency. In Ma Cousine, 
Rejane introduced on the boards of Les Varietes a bit of dancing 
such as one sees at the Elysee-Montmartre ; she seized on and 
imitated the grotesque effrontery of Mademoiselle Grille-d Egout, 
and her little arched foot flying upwards, brushed a kiss upon the 
forehead of her model ; for Rejane the " grand ecart " may be 
fatal, perhaps, but it is neither difficult nor terrifying. 

Once more delighting us with Marquise in 1889 ; playing with 
such child-like grace the Candidate in Brevet Superieur in 1891 ; 
immediately afterwards she took a part \nAmoureuse at the Odon. 
The subject is equivocal, the dialogue smutty. Rejane extenuated 
nothing ; on the contrary, accentuated things, and yet knew 
always how to win her pardon. 

Now, it so happened that in 1882, after having personified the 
Moulin-Rouge in Les Varietes de Paris, Rejane was married on 
the stage, in La Nuit de Notes de P. L. M., to P. L. Moriseau. 
On the anniversary day, ten years later, her marriage took place in 
good earnest, before a real M. le Maire, and according to all legal 


By Dauphin Meunier 205 

formalities, with M. Porel, a sometime actor, an ex-director of 
the Odeon, then director of the Grand-Theatre, and co-director 
to-day of the Vaudeville But to return to her art. 

Just as the first dressmakers of Paris measure Rejane s fine 
figure for the costumes of her various roles, so the best writers of 
the French Academy now make plays to her measure. They 
take the size of her temperament, the height of her talent, the 
breadth of her play ; they consider her taste, they flatter her 
mood ; they clothe her with the richest draperies she can covet. 
Their imagination, their fancy, their cleverness, are all put at her 
service. The leaders in this industry have hitherto been Messrs. 
Meilhac and Halevy, but now M. Victorien Sardou is ruining 
them. Madame Sam-Gene is certainly, of all the roles Rdjane has 
played, that best suited to bring out her manifold resources. It 
is not merely that Rejane plays the washerwoman, become a great 
lady, without blemish or omission ; she is Madame Sans-Gene her 
self, with no overloading, nothing forced, nothing caricatured. It 
is portraiture ; history. 

Many a time has Rejane appeared in cap, cotton frock, and 
white apron ; many a time in robes of state, glittering with 
diamonds ; she has worn the buskin or the sock, demeaned herself 
like a gutter heroine, or dropped the stately curtsey of the high 
born lady. But never, except in Madame Sans-Gene, has she 
been able to bring all her roles into one focus, exhibit her whole 
wardrobe, and yet remain one and the same person, compress into 
one evening the whole of her life. 

The seekers after strange novelties, the fanatics for the 
mists of the far north, the vague, the irresolute, the restless, 
will not easily forget the Ibsenish mask worn by Rdjane in 
Nora of The Doll s House; although most of us, loving Rejane 
for herself, probably prefer to this vacillating creation, the 


206 Madame Rejane 

firm drawing, the clear design, the strong, yet supple lines of 
Madame Sans-Gene. 

Why has Rejane no engagement at the Comedie-Frangaise ? 
Whom does one go to applaud on this stage, called the first in 
France, and from which Rejane, Sarah Bernhardt, and Coquelin 
the elder, all are absent ? I will explain the matter in two words. 

The house of Moliere, for many years now, has belonged to 
Moliere no more. Were Moliere to come to life again, neither 
he nor Rejane would go to eat their hearts out, with inaction and 
dulness, beneath the wings of M. Jules Claretie although he is, 
of course, a very estimable gentleman. Were Rejane unmarried, 
Moliere to-day would enter into partnership with her, because 
she is in herself the entire Comedie-Frangaise. I have already 
said she is married to M. Porel, director of the Vaudeville, where 
she reigns as Queen. I am quite unable to see any reason why 
she should soon desert such a fortunate conjugal domicile. 

Notwithstanding the dryness and the rapidity of this enumera 
tion of Rejane s roles, I hope to have given some general idea of 
the marvellous diversity and flexibility of her dramatic spirit and 
temperament ; it seems to me that the most searching criticism of 
her various creations, would not greatly enhance the accuracy of 
the picture. This is why I make no attempt to describe her in 
some three or four parts of an entirely different character. Besides, 
I should have to draw on hearsay ; and I desire to trust only to 
my own eyes, my own heart. Needless to say, I have not 
had the good luck to see Madame Rejane in each of her 
characterisations since her first appearance. Her youthful air has 
never changed j but I have only had the opportunity of admiring 
it during the last few years. I confidently maintain, however, 
that she could not have been more charning in 1875 than she is 
to-day, with the devil in her body, heaven in her eyes. 

A Girl Resting 

By Sydney Adamson 

The Roman Road 

By Kenneth Grahame 

A,L the roads of our neighbourhood were cheerful and friendly, 
having each of them pleasant qualities of its own ; but this 
one seemed different from the others in its masterful sugges 
tion of a serious purpose, speeding you along with a strange up 
lifting of the heart. The others tempted chiefly with their 
treasures of hedge and ditch ; the rapt surprise of the first lords- 
and-ladies, the rustle of a field-mouse, splash of a frog ; while cool 
noses of brother-beasts were pushed at you through gate or gap. 
A loiterer you had need to be, did you choose one of them ; so 
many were the tiny hands thrust out to detain you, from this side 
and that. But this other was of a sterner sort, and even in its 
shedding off of bank and hedgerow as it marched straight and full 
for the open downs, it seemed to declare its contempt for adventi 
tious trappings to catch the shallow-pated. When the sense of 
injustice or disappointment was heavy on me, and things were very 
black within, as on this particular day, the road of character was 
my choice for that solitary ramble when I turned my back for an 
afternoon on a world that had unaccountably declared itself against 

"The Knight s Road" we children had named it, from a sort 
of feeling that, if from any quarter at all, it would be down this 


212 The Roman Road 

track we might some day see Lancelot and his peers come pacing 
on their great war-horses ; supposing that any of the stout band 
still survived, in nooks and unexplored places. Grown-up people 
sometimes spoke of it as the " Pilgrim s Way " ; but I didn t know 
much about pilgrims except Walter in the Horselburg story. 
Him I sometimes saw, breaking with haggard eyes out of yonder 
copse, and calling to the pilgrims as they hurried along on their 
desperate march to the Holy City, where peace and pardon were 
awaiting them. " All roads lead to Rome," I had once heard 
somebody say ; and I had taken the remark very seriously, of 
course, and puzzled over it many days. There must have been 
some mistake, I concluded at last ; but of one road at least I 
intuitively felt it to be true. And my belief was clinched by 
something that fell from Miss Smedley during a history-lesson, 
about a strange road that ran right down the middle of England 
till it reached the coast, and then began again in France, just 
opposite, and so on undeviating, through city and vineyard, right 
from the misty Highlands to the Eternal City. Uncorroborated, 
any statement of Miss Smedley s usually fell on incredulous ears ; 
but here, with the road itself in evidence, she seemed, once in a 
way, to have strayed into truth. 

Rome ! It was fascinating to think that it lay at the other end 
of this white ribbon that rolled itself off from my feet over the 
distant downs. I was not quite so uninstructed as to imagine I 
could reach it that afternoon ; but some day, I thought, if things 
went on being as unpleasant as they were now some day, when 
Aunt Eliza had gone on a visit we would see. 

I tried to imagine what it would be like when I got there. 
The Coliseum I knew, of course, from a woodcut in the history- 
book : so to begin with I plumped that down in the middle. The 
rest had to be patched up from the little grey market-town where 


By Kenneth Grahame 213 

twice a year we went to have our hair cut ; hence, in the result, 
Vespasian s amphitheatre was approached by muddy little streets, 
wherein the Red Lion and the Blue Boar, with Somebody s Entire 
along their front, and " Commercial Room " on their windows ; 
the doctor s house, of substantial red-brick ; and the facade of the 
new Wesleyan chapel, which we thought very fine, were the 
chief architectual ornaments : while the Roman populace pottered 
about in smocks and corduroys, twisting the tails of Roman calves 
and inviting each other to beer in musical Wessex. From Rome 
I drifted on to other cities, dimly heard of Damascus, Brighton, 
(Aunt Eliza s ideal), Athens, and Glasgow, whose glories the 
gardener sang ; but there was a certain sameness in my conception 
of all of them : that Wesleyan chapel would keep cropping up 
everywhere. It was easier to go a-building among those dream- 
cities where no limitations were imposed, and one was sole 
architect, with a free hand. Down a delectable street of cloud- 
built palaces I was mentally pacing, when I happened upon 
the Artist. 

He was seated at work by the roadside, at a point whence the 
cool large spaces of the downs, juniper-studded, swept grandly west 
wards. His attributes proclaimed him of the artist tribe : besides, 
he wore knickerbockers like myself. I knew I was not to bother 
him with questions, nor look over his shoulder and breathe in his 
ear they didn t like it, this genus irritabile , but there was nothing 
about staring in my code of instructions, the point having somehow 
been overlooked : so, squatting down on the grass, I devoted myself 
to a passionate absorbing of every detail. At the end of five 
minutes there was not a button on him that I could not have 
passed an examination in ; and the wearer himself of that home 
spun suit was probably less familiar with its pattern and texture 
than I was. Once he looked up, nodded, half held out his tobacco 


214 The Roman *Road 

pouch, mechanically as it were, then, returning it to his pocket, 
resumed his work, and I my mental photography. 

After another five minutes or so had passed he remarked, without 
looking my way: "Fine afternoon we re having: going far to 
day ? " 

" No, I m not going any farther than this," I replied : " I was 
thinking of going on to Rome : but I ve put it off." 

" Pleasant place, Rome," he murmured: "you ll like it." It 
was some minutes later that he added : " But I wouldn t go just 
now, if I were you : too jolly hot." 

" Ton haven t been to Rome, have you ? " I inquired. 

" Rather," he replied briefly : " I live there." 

This was too much, and my jaw dropped as I struggled to grasp 
the fact that I was sitting there talking to a fellow who lived in 
Rome. Speech was out of the question : besides I had other 
things to do. Ten solid minutes had I already spent in an ex 
amination of him as a mere stranger and artist ; and now the whole 
thing had to be done over again, from the changed point of view. 
So I began afresh, at the crown of his soft hat, and worked down 
to his solid British shoes, this time investing everything with the 
new Roman halo ; and at last I managed to get out : "But you 
don t really live there, do you ? " never doubting the fact, but 
wanting to hear it repeated. 

" Well," he said, good-naturedly overlooking the slight rudeness 
of my query, " I live there as much as I live anywhere. About 
half the year sometimes. I ve got a sort of a shanty there. You 
must come and see it some day." 

" But do you live anywhere else as well ? " I went on, feeling 
the forbidden tide of questions surging up within me. 

" O yes, all over the place," was his vague reply. " And I ve 
got a diggings somewhere off Piccadilly." 

" Where s 

By Kenneth Grahame 215 

" Where s that ? " I inquired. 

" Where s what ? " said he. Oh, Piccadilly ! It s in London." 
" Have you a large garden ? " I asked ; " and how many pigs 
have you got ? " 

"I ve no garden at all," he replied sadly, "and they don t allow 
me to keep pigs, though I d like to, awfully. It s very hard." 

" But what do .you do all day, then," I cried, " and where do you 
go and play, without any garden, or pigs, or things ? : 

" When I want to play," he said gravely, " I have to go and 
play in the street ; but it s poor fun, I grant you. There s a 
goat, though, not far off, and sometimes I talk to him when I m 
feeling lonely ; but he s very proud." 

" Goats are proud," I admitted. "There s one lives near here, 
and if you say anything to him at all, he hits you in the wind with 
his head. You know what it feels like when a fellow hits you in 
the wind ? " 

" I do, well," he replied, in a tone of proper melancholy, and 
painted on. 

" And have you been to any other places," I began again 
presently, " besides Rome and Piccy-what s-his-name ? " 

" Heaps," he said. " I m a sort of Ulysses seen men and cities, 
you know. In fact, about the only place I never got to was the 
Fortunate Island." 

I began to like this man. He answered your questions briefly 
and to the point, and never tried to be funny. I felt I could be 
confidential with him. 

" Wouldn t you like," I inquired, " to find a city without any 
people in it at all ? 

He looked puzzled. " I m afraid I don t quite understand," 
said he. 

" I mean," I went on eagerly, " a city where you walk in at the 


216 The Roman Road 

gates, and the shops are all full of beautiful things, and the houses 
furnished as grand as can be, and there isn t anybody there what 
ever ! And you go into the shops, and take anything you want 
chocolates and magic-lanterns and injirubber balls and there s 
nothing to pay ; and you choose your own house and live there 
and do just as you like, and never go to bed unless you want 

The artist laid down his brush. " That would be a nice city," 
he said. " Better than Rome. You can t do that sort of thing in 
Rome or in Piccadilly either. But I fear it s one of the places 
I ve never been to." 

"And you d ask your friends," I went on, warming to my 
subject ; " only those who really like, of course ; and they d each 
have a house to themselves there d be lots of houses, and no 
relations at all, unless they promised they d be pleasant, and if they 
weren t they d have to go." 

" So you wouldn t have any relations ? " said the artist. " Well, 
perhaps you re right. We have tastes in common, I see." 

" I d have Harold," I said reflectively, " and Charlotte. They d 
like it awfully. The others are getting too old. Oh ! and Martha 
I d have Martha to cook and wash up and do things. You d 
like Martha. She s ever so much nicer than Aunt Eliza. She s 
my idea of a real lady." 

"Then I m sure I should like her," he replied heartily, "and 
when I come to what do you call this city of yours ? Nephelo 
something, did you say ! " 

" I I don t know," I replied timidly. " I m afraid it hasn t 
got a name yet." 

The artist gazed out over the downs. " The poet says dear 
city of Cecrops ; he said softly to himself, " and wilt not thou 
say, dear city of Zeus? That s from Marcus Aurelius," he 


By Kenneth Grahame 217 

went on, turning again to his work. " You don t know him, I 
suppose ; you will some day." 

Who s he ? " I inquired. 

"Oh, just another fellow who lived in Rome," he replied, 
dabbing away. 

"O dear!" I cried, disconsolately. "What a lot of people 
seem to live at Rome, and I ve never even been there ! But I 
think I d like my city best." 

"And so would I," he replied with unction. "But Marcus 
Aurelius wouldn t, you know." 

" Then we won t invite him," I said : " will we ? " 

"7 won t if you won t," said he. And that point being settled, 
we were silent for a while. 

"Do you know," he said presently, "I ve met one or two 
fellows from time to time, who have been to a city like yours 
perhaps it was the same one. They won t talk much about it 
only broken hints, now and then ; but they ve been there sure 
enough. They don t seem to care about anything in particular 
and everything s the same to them, rough or smooth ; and sooner 
or later they slip off and disappear j and you never see them again. 
Gone back, I suppose." 

"Of course," said I. "Don t see what they ever came away 
for ; 7 wouldn t. To be told you ve broken things when you 
haven t, and stopped having tea with the servants in the kitchen, 
and not allowed to have a dog to sleep with you. But Pve known 
people, too, who ve gone there." 

The artist stared, but without incivility. 

" Well, there s Lancelot," I went on. " The book says he 
died, but it never seemed to read right, somehow. He just went 
away, like Arthur. And Crusoe, when he got tired of wearing 
clothes and being respectable. And all the nice ~ men in the 


218 The Roman Road 

stories who don t marry the Princess, cos only one man ever gets 
married in a book, you know. They ll be there ! " 

" And the men who fail," he said, " who try like the rest, and 
toil, and eat their hearts out, and somehow miss or break down 
or get bowled over in the melee and get no Princess, nor even a 
second-class kingdom some of them ll be there, I hope ? " 

" Yes, if you like," I replied, not quite understanding him ; 
" if they re friends of yours, we ll ask em, of course." 

" What a time we shall have ! " said the artist reflectively ; " and 
how shocked old Marcus Aurelius will be ! " 

The shadows had lengthened uncannily, a tide of golden haze 
began to flood the grey-green surface of the downs, and the artist 
put his traps together, preparatory to a move. I felt very low : 
we would have to part, it seemed, just as we were getting on so 
well together. Then he stood up, and he was very straight and 
tall, and the sunset was in his hair and beard as he stood there, 
high over me. He took my hand like an equal. " I ve enjoyed 
our conversation very much," he said. " That was an interesting 
subject you started, and we haven t half exhausted it. We shall 
meet again, I hope ? " 

" Of course we shall," I replied, surprised that there should be 
any doubt about it. 

" In Rome perhaps ? " said he. 

" Yes, in Rome," I answered; "or Piccy-the-other-place, or 

" Or else," said he, " in that other city when we ve found the 
way there. And I ll lookout for you, and you ll sing out as soon 
as you see me. And we ll go down the street arm-in-arm, and 
into all the shops, and then I ll choose my house, and you ll 
choose your house, and we ll live there like princes and good 


By Kenneth Grahame 219 

" Oh, but you ll stay in my house, won t you ? " I cried ; " I 
wouldn t ask everybody ; but I ll ask you" 

He affected to consider a moment ; then " Right ! " he said : 
"I believe you mean it, and I will come and stay with you. I 
won t go to anybody else, if they ask me ever so much. And I ll 
stay quite a long time, too, and I won t be any trouble." 

Upon this compact we parted, and I went down-heartedly from 
the man who understood me, back to the house where I never 
could do anything right. How was it that everything seemed 
natural and sensible to him, which these uncles, vicars, and other 
grown-up men took for the merest tomfoolery ? Well, he would 
explain this, and many another thing, when we met again. The 
Knight s Road ! How it always brought consolation ! Was he 
possibly one of those vanished knights I had been looking for so 
long ? Perhaps he would be in armour next time why not ? 
He would look well in armour, I thought. And I would take 
care to get there first, and see the sunlight flash and play on his 
helmet and shield, as he rode up the High Street of the Golden 

Meantime, there only remained the finding it, an easy matter^ 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. N 

Three Pictures 

By Walter Sickert 

I. The Old Bedford Music Hall 
II. Portrait of Aubrey Beardsley 
III. Ada Lundberg 


By Norman Gale 

SHE is mine in the day, 
She is mine in the dusk ; 
She is virgin as dawn, 
And as fragrant as musk. 

And the wood on the hill 

Is the home where we meet 

O, the coming of eve, 
It is marvellous sweet ! 

To my satisfied heart 

She has flown like a dove ; 

All her kisses are taught 
By the wisdom of love. 

And whatever my grief 
There is healing, and rest, 

On the pear-blossom slope 
Of her beautiful breast. 

Thy Heart s Desire 

By Netta Syrett 

THE tents were pitched in a little plain surrounded by hills. 
Right and left there were stretches of tender vivid green 
where the young corn was springing ; further still, on either hand, 
the plain was yellow with mustard-flower ; but in the immediate 
foreground it was bare and stony. A few thorny bushes pushed 
their straggling way through the dry soil, ineffectively as far as 
the grace of the landscape was concerned, for they merely served 
to emphasise the barren aridness of the land that stretched before 
the tents, sloping gradually to the distant hills. 

The hills were uninteresting enough in themselves ; they had 
no grandeur of outline, no picturesqueness even, though at 
morning and evening the sun, like a great magician, clothed them 
with beauty at a touch. 

They had begun to change, to soften, to blush rose-red in the 
evening light, when a woman came to the entrance of the largest 
of the tents and looked towards them. She leant against the 
support on one side of the canvas flap, and putting back her 
head, rested that too against it, while her eyes wandered over the 
plain and over the distant hills. 


By Netta Syrett 229 

She was bareheaded, for the covering of the tent projected a 
few feet to form an awning overhead. The gentle breeze which 
had risen with sundown, stirred the soft brown tendrils of hair on 
her temples, and fluttered .her pink cotton gown a little. She stood 
very still, with her arms hanging and her hands clasped loosely in 
front of her. There was about her whole attitude an air of 
studied quiet which in some vague fashion the slight clasp of her 
hands accentuated. Her face, with its tightly, almost rigidly 
closed lips, would have been quite in keeping with the impression 
of conscious calm which her entire presence suggested, had it not 
been that when she raised her eyes a strange contradiction to this 
idea was afforded. They were large grey eyes, unusually bright 
and rather startling in effect, for they seemed the only live thing 
about her. Gleaming from her still set face, there was something 
almost alarming in their brilliancy. They softened with a sudden 
glow of pleasure as they rested on the translucent green of the 
wheat fields under the broad generous sunlight, and then wandered 
to where the pure vivid yellow of the mustard-flower spread in 
waves to the base of the hills, now mystically veiled in radiance. 
She stood motionless watching their melting elusive changes from 
palpitating rose to the transparent purple of amethyst. The still 
ness of evening was broken by the monotonous, not unmusical 
creaking of a Persian wheel at some little distance to the left of 
the tent. The well stood in a little grove of trees : between 
their branches she could see, when she turned her head, the 
coloured saris of the village women, where they stood in groups 
chattering as they drew the water, and the little naked brown 
babies that toddled beside them or sprawled on the hard ground 
beneath the trees. From the village of flat-roofed mud-houses 
under the low hill at the back of the tents, other women were 
crossing the plain towards the well, their terra-cotta water-jars 


230 Thy Heart s Desire 

poised easily on their heads, casting long shadows on the sun 
baked ground as they came. 

Presently, in the distance, from the direction of the sunlit hills 
opposite, a little group of men came into sight. Far off, the 
mustard-coloured jackets and the red turbans of the orderlies 
made vivid splashes of colour on the dull plain. As they came 
nearer, the guns slung across their shoulders, the cases of mathe 
matical instruments, the hammers and other heavy baggage they 
carried for the Sahib, became visible. A little in front, at walking 
pace, rode the Sahib himself, making notes as he came in a book 
he held before him. The girl at the tent-entrance watched the 
advance of the little company indifferently, it seemed ; except for a 
slight tightening of the muscles about her mouth, her face 
remained unchanged. While he was still some little distance 
away, the man with the note-book raised his head and smiled 
awkwardly as he saw her standing there. Awkwardness, perhaps, 
best describes the whole man. He was badly put together, loose- 
jointed, ungainly. The fact that he was tall profited him nothing, 
for it merely emphasised the extreme ungracefulness of his figure. 
His long pale face was made paler by a shock of coarse, tow- 
coloured hair ; his eyes even looked colourless, though they 
were certainly the least uninteresting feature of his face, for 
they were not devoid of expression. He had a way of slouch 
ing when he moved that singularly intensified the general 
uncouthness of his appearance. " Are you very tired ? " asked 
his wife gently when he had dismounted close to the tent. 
The question would have been an unnecessary one had it been 
put to her instead of to her husband, for her voice had 
that peculiar flat toneless sound for which extreme weariness is 

" Well, no, my dear, not very," he replied, drawling out the 


By Netta Syrett 231 

words with an exasperating air of delivering a final verdict, after 
deep reflection on the subject. 

The girl glanced once more at the fading colours on the hills. 
" Come in and rest," she said, moving aside a little to let him 

She stood lingering a moment after he had entered the tent, as 
though unwilling to leave the outer air ; and before she turned to 
follow him she drew a deep breath, and her hand went for one 
swift second to her throat as though she felt stifled. 

Later on that evening she sat in her tent sewing by the light 
of the lamp that stood on her little table. 

Opposite to her, her husband stretched his ungainly length in a 
deck-chair, and turned over a pile of official notes. Every now 
and then her eyes wandered from the gay silks of the table-cover 
she was embroidering to the canvas walls which bounded the 
narrow space into which their few household goods were crowded. 
Outside there was a deep hush. The silence of the vast empty 
plain seemed to work its way slowly, steadily in, towards the little 
patch of light set in its midst. The girl felt it in every nerve ; it 
was as though some soft-footed, noiseless, shapele.-s creature, 
whose presence she only dimly divined, was approaching nearer 
nearer. The heavy outer stillness was in some way made more 
terrifying by the rustle of the papers her husband was reading, by 
the creaking of his chair as he moved, and by the little fidgeting 
grunts and half exclamations which from time to time broke from 
him. His wife s hand shook at every unintelligible mutter from 
him, and the slight habitual contraction between her eyes 

All at once she threw her work down on to the table. "For 

Heaven s sake please, John, talk ! " she cried. Her eyes, for 


232 Thy Heart s Desire 

the moment s space in which they met the startled ones of her 
husband, had a wild hunted look, but it was gone almost before 
his slow brain had time to note that it had been there and was 
vaguely disturbing. She laughed a little, unsteadily. 

"Did I startle you ? I m sorry. I " she laughed again. 

" I believe I m a little nervous. When one is all day alone " 

She paused without finishing the sentence. The man s face 
changed suddenly. A wave of tenderness swept over it, and at 
the same time an expression of half-incredulous delight shone in 
his pale eyes. 

" Poor little girl, are you really lonely ?" he said. Even the 
real feeling in his tone failed to rob his voice of its peculiarly 
irritating grating quality. He rose awkwardly and moved to his 
wife s side. 

Involuntarily she shrank a little, and the hand which he had 
stretched out to touch her hair sank to his side. She recovered 
herself immediately and turned her face up to his, though she did 
not raise her eyes ; but he did not kiss her. Instead, he stood in 
an embarrassed fashion a moment by her side, and then went back 
to his seat. 

There was silence again for some time. The man lay back in 
his chair, gazing at his big clumsy shoes, as though he hoped for 
some inspiration from that quarter, while his wife worked with 
nervous haste. 

" Don t let me keep you from reading, John," she said, and her 
voice had regained its usual gentle tone. 

" No, my dear ; I m just thinking of something to say to you, 
but T don t seem " 

She smiled a little. In spite of herself, her lip curled faintly. 
" Don t worry about it it was stupid of me to expect it. I 

mean " she added hastily, immediately repenting the sarcasm. 


By Netta Syrett 233 

She glanced furtively at him, but his face was quite unmoved. 
Evidently he had not noticed it, and she smiled faintly again. 

"Oh, Kathie, I knew there was something I d forgotten to tell 
you, my dear; there s a man coming down here. I don t know 
whether " 

She looked up sharply. " A man coming here ? What for ? " 
she interrupted breathlessly. 

"Sent to help me about this oil-boring business, my dear." 

He had lighted his pipe, and was smoking placidly, taking long 
whiffs between his words. 

" Well ? " impatiently questioned his wife, fixing her bright 
eyes on his face. 

Well that s all, my dear." 

She checked an exclamation. " But don t you know anything 
about him his name ? where he comes from ? what he is like ?" 
She was leaning forward against the table, her needle with a long 
end of yellow silk drawn halfway through her work, held in her 
upraised hand, her whole attitude one of quivering excitement and 

The man took his pipe from his mouth deliberately, with a look 
of slow wonder. 

" Why Kathie, you seem quite anxious. I didn t know you d be 
so interested, my dear. Weil," another long pull at his pipe 
" his name s Brook Brookfield, I think." He paused again. 
" This pipe don t draw well a bit ; there s something wrong with 
it, I shouldn t wonder," he added, taking it out and examining 
the bowl as though struck with the brilliance of the idea. 

The woman opposite put down her work and clenched her 
hands under the table. 

"Go on, John," she said presently in a tense vibrating voice 
* his name is Brookfield. Well, where does he come from ? " 

" Straight 

234 Thy Heart s Desire 

"Straight from home, my dear, I believe." He fumbled in his 
pocket, and after some time extricated a pencil with which he 
began to poke the tobacco in the bowl in an ineffectual aimless 
fashion, becoming completely engrossed in the occupation appa 
rently. There was another long pause. The woman went on 
working, or feigning to work, for her hands were trembling a 
good deal. 

After some moments she raised her head again. "John, will 
you mind attending to me one moment, and answering these 
questions as quickly as you can ? " The emphasis on the last 
word was so faint as to be almost as imperceptible as the touch or 
exasperated contempt which she could not absolutely banish from 
her tone. 

Her husband, looking up, met her clear bright gaze and 
reddened like a schoolboy. 

"Whereabouts from home does he come?" she asked in a 
studiedly gentle fashion. 

"Well, from London, I think," he replied, almost briskly for 
him, though he stammered and tripped over the words. " He s a 
University chap ; I used to hear he was clever I don t know 
about that, I m sure ; he used to chaff me, I remember, but " 

" Chaff you ? You have met him then ? 

"Yes, my dear" he was fast relapsing into his slow drawl 
again "that is, I went to school with him, but it s a long time 
ago. Brookfield yes, that must be his name." 

She waited a moment, then "When is he coming? she 
inquired abruptly. 

" Let me see to-day s " 

"Monday" the word came swiftly between her set teeth. 

" Ah, yes, Monday well," reflectively, " next Monday, my 

Mrs. Drayton 

By Netta Syrett 235 

Mrs. Drayton rose, and began to pace softly the narrow passage 
between the table and the tent- wall, her hands clasped loosely 
behind her. 

" How long have you known this ? she said, stopping 
abruptly. " Oh, John, you needn t consider ; it s quite a simple 
question. To-day ? Yesterday ? " 

Her foot moved restlessly on the ground as she waited. 

" I think it was the day before yesterday," he replied. 

"Then why in Heaven s name didn t you tell me before ?"she 
broke out fiercely. 

" My dear, it slipped my memory. If I d thought you would 
be interested " 

"Interested?" She laughed shortly. "It is rather interesting 
to hear that after six months of this" she made a quick compre 
hensive gesture with her hand "one will have some one to 
speak to some one. It is the hand of Providence ; it comes just 
in time to save me from " She checked herself abruptly. 

He sat staring up at her stupidly, without a word. 

"It s all right, John," she said, with a quick change of tone, 
gathering up her work quietly as she spoke. " I m not mad 
yet. You you must get used to these little outbreaks," she 
added after a moment, smiling faintly, " and to do me justice, I 
don t often trouble you with them, do I ? I m just a little tired, 
or it s the heat or something. No don t touch me," she 
cried, shrinking back, for he had risen slowly and was coming 
towards her. 

She had lost command over her voice, and the shrill note or 
horror in it was unmistakable. The man heard it, and shrank in 
his turn. 

" I m so sorry, John," she murmured, raising her great bright 
eyes to his face. They had not lost their goaded expression, 


236 Thy Heart s Desire 

though they were full of tears. " I m awfully sorry, but I m 
just nervous and stupid, and I can t bear any one to touch me when 
I m nervous." 


" Here s Broomhurst, my dear ! I made a mistake in his name 
after all, I find. I told you Brookfield, I believe, didn t I ? Well, 
it isn t Brookfield, he says ; it s Broomhurst." 

Mrs. Drayton had walked some little distance across the plain to 
meet and welcome the expected guest. She stood quietly waiting 
while her husband stammered over his incoherent sentences, and 
then put out her hand. 

"We are very glad to see you," she said with a quick glance at 
the newcomer s face as she spoke. 

As they walked together towards the tent, after the first greet 
ings, she felt his keen eyes upon her before he turned to her 

" I m afraid Mrs. Drayton finds the climate trying ? " he asked. 
" Perhaps she ought not to have come so far in this heat ? " 

" Kathie is often pale. / You do look white to-day, my dear," 
he observed, turning anxiously towards his wife. 

"Do I?" she replied. The unsteadiness of her tone was 
hardly appreciable, but it was not lost on Broomhurst s quick 
ears. " Oh, I don t think so. I feel very well." 

"I ll come and see if they ve fixed you up all right," said 
Drayton, following his companion towards the new tent that had 
been pitched at some little distance from the large one. 

" We shall see you at dinner then ? " Mrs. Drayton observed in 
reply to Broomhurst s smile as they parted. 


By Netta Syrett 237 

She entered the tent slowly, and moving up to the table, 
already laid for dinner, began to rearrange the things upon it in a 
purposeless mechanical fashion. 

After a moment she sank down upon a seat opposite the open 
entrance, and put her hand to her head. 

"What is the matter with me?" she thought wearily. "All 
the week I ve been looking forward to seeing this man any man, 
any one to take off the edge of this." She shuddered. Even in 
thought she hesitated to analyse the feeling that possessed her. 
" Well, he s here, and I think I feel worse" Her eyes 
travelled towards the hills she had been used to watch at this 
hour, and rested on them with a vague unseeing gaze. 

"Tired, Kathie ? A penny for your thoughts, my dear," 
said her husband, coming in presently to find her still sitting 

"I m thinking what a curious world this is, and what an 
ironical vein of humour the gods who look after it must possess," 
she replied with a mirthless laugh, rising as she spoke. 
John looked puzzled. 

" Funny my having known Broomhurst before, you mean ? " 
he said doubtfully. 

"I was fishing down at Lynmouth this time last year," 
Broomhurst said at dinner. "You know Lynmouth, Mrs. 
Drayton ? Do you never imagine you hear the gurgling of the 
stream ? I am tantalised already by the sound of it rushing 
through the beautiful green gloom of those woods aren t they 
lovely ? And / haven t been in this burnt-up spot as many hours 
as you ve had months of it." 

She smiled a little. 

"You must learn to possess your soul in patience," she said, 


238 Thy Heart s Desire 

and glanced inconsequently from Broomhurst to her husband, and 
then dropped her eyes and was silent a moment. 

John was obviously, and a little audibly, enjoying his dinner. 
He sat with his chair pushed close to the table, and his elbows 
awkwardly raised, swallowing his soup in gulps. He grasped his 
spoon tightly in his bony hand so that its swollen joints stood out 
larger and uglier than ever, his wife thought. 

Her eyes wandered to Broomhurst s hands. They were well 
shaped, and though not small, there was a look of refinement about 
them ; he had a way of touching things delicately, a little linger- 
ingly, she noticed. There was an air of distinction about his 
clear-cut, clean-shaven face, possibly intensified by contrast with 
Drayton s blurred features ; and it was, perhaps, also by contrast 
with the grey cuffs that showed beneath John s ill-cut drab suit that 
the linen Broomhurst wore seemed to her particularly spotless. 

Broomhurst s thoughts, for his part, were a good deal occupied 
with his hostess. 

She was pretty, he thought, or perhaps it was that, with the 
wide dry lonely plain as a setting, her fragile delicacy of appear 
ance was invested with a certain flower-like charm. 

" The silence here seems rather strange, rather appalling at 
first, when one is fresh from a town," he pursued, after a 
moment s pause, " but I suppose you re used to it ; eh, Drayton ? 
How do you find life here, Mrs. Drayton ? " he asked a little 
curiously, turning to her as he spoke. 

She hesitated a second. " Oh, much the same as I should find 
it anywhere else, I expect," she replied ; "after all, one carries the 
possibilities of a happy life about with one don t you think so ? 
The Garden of Eden wouldn t necessarily make my life any 
happier, or less happy, than a howling wilderness like this. It 
depends on oneself entirely." 

" Given 

By Netta Syrett 239 

" Given the right Adam and Eve, the desert blossoms like the 
rose, in fact," Broomhurst answered lightly, with a smiling glance 
inclusive of husband and wife ; " you two don t feel as though 
you d been driven out of Paradise evidently." 

Drayton raised his eyes from his plate with a smile of tota 

" Great Heavens ! What an Adam to select ! " thought Broom- 
hurst involuntarily, as Mrs. Drayton rose rather suddenly from 
the table. 

" I ll come and help with that packing-case," John said, rising, 
in his turn, lumberingly from his place; "then we can have a 
smoke eh ? Kathie don t mind, if we sit near the entrance." 

The two men went out together, Broomhurst holding the 
lantern, for the moon had not yet risen. Mrs. Drayton followed 
them to the doorway, and, pushing the looped-up hanging further 
aside, stepped out into the cool darkness. 

Her heart was beating quickly, and there was a great lump in 
her throat that frightened her as though she were choking. 

"And I am his wife I belong to him!" she cried, almost 

She pressed both her hands tightly against her breast, and set 
her teeth, fighting to keep down the rising flood that threatened 
to sweep away her composure. " Oh, what a fool I am ! 
What an hysterical fool of a woman I am ! " she whispered below 
her breath. She began to walk slowly up and down outside the 
tent, in the space illumined by the lamplight, as though striving 
to make her outwardly quiet movements react upon the inward 
tumult. In a little while she had conquered ; she quietly entered 
the tent, drew a low chair to the entrance, and took up a book, 
just as footsteps became audible. A moment afterwards Broom 
hurst emerged from the darkness into the circle of light outside, 


240 Thy Heart s Desire 

and Mrs. Drayton raised her eyes from the pages she was turning 
to greet him with a smile. 

" Are your things all right ? " 

"Oh yes, more or less, thank you. I was a little concerned 
about a case of books, but it isn t much damaged fortunately. 
Perhaps I ve some you would care to look at ? 

" The books will be a godsend," she returned with a sudden 
brightening of the eyes ; I was getting desperate for books." 

" What are you reading now ? " he asked, glancing at the 
volume that lay in her lap. 

" It s a Browning. I carry it about a good deal. I think I 
like to have it with me, but I don t seem to read it much." 

"Are you waiting for a suitable optimistic moment ? " Broom- 
hurst inquired smiling. 

" Yes, now you mention it, I think that must be why I am 
waiting," she replied slowly. 

" And it doesn t come even in the Garden of Eden ? Surely 
the serpent, pessimism, hasn t been insolent enough to draw you 
into conversation with him ? " he said lightly. 

"There has been no one to converse with at all when John is 
away, I mean. I think I should have liked a little chat with the 
serpent immensely by way of a change," she replied in the same 

" Ah, yes," Broomhurst said with sudden seriousness, " it must 
be unbearably dull for you alone here, with Drayton away all 

Mrs. Drayton s hand shook a little as she fluttered a page of her 
open book. 

" I should think it quite natural you would be irritated beyond 
endurance to hear that all s right with the world, for instance, 
when you were sighing for the long day to pass," he continued. 

" I don t 

By Netta Syrett 241 

" I don t mind the day so much it s the evenings." She 
abruptly checked the swift words and flushed painfully. " I mean 
I ve grown stupidly nervous, I think even when John is here. 
Oh, you have no idea of the awful silence of this place at night," 
she added, rising hurriedly from her low seat, and moving closer to 
the doorway. " It is so close, isn t it ? " she said, almost apologeti- 
cally. There was silence for quite a minute. 

Broomhurst s quick eyes noted the silent momentary clenching 
of the hands that hung at her side as she stood leaning against the 
support at the entrance. 

" But how stupid of me to give you such a bad impression or 
the camp the first evening, too," Mrs. Drayton exclaimed 
presently, and her companion mentally commended the admirable 
composure of her voice. 

" Probably you will never notice that it is lonely at all," she 
continued, "John likes it here. He is immensely interested in his 
work, you know. I hope you are too. If you are interested it 
is all quite right. I think the climate tries me a little. I never 
used to be stupid and nervous. Ah, here s John ; he s been 
round to the kitchen-tent, I suppose." 

" Been looking after that fellow cleanin my gun, my dear," 
John explained, shambling towards the deck-chair. 

Later, Broomhurst stood at his own tent-door. He looked up 
at the star-sown sky, and the heavy silence seemed to press upon 
him like an actual, physical burden. 

He took his cigar from between his lips presently and looked at 
the glowing end reflectively before throwing it away. 

" Considering that she has been alone with him here for six 
months, she has herself very well in hand wry well in hand," he 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. o It 

242 Thy Heart s Desire 


It was Sunday morning. John Drayton sat just inside the tent, 
presumably enjoying his pipe before the heat of the day. His eyes 
furtively followed his wife as she moved about near him, some 
times passing close to his chair in search of something she had 
mislaid. There was colour in her cheeks ; her eyes, though pre 
occupied, were bright ; there was a lightness and buoyancy in her 
step which she set to a little dancing air she was humming under 
her breath. 

After a moment or two the song ceased, she began to move 
slowly, sedately ; and as if chilled by a raw breath of air, the light 
faded from her eyes, which she presently turned towards her 

" Why do you look at me ? " she asked suddenly. 

u I don t know, my dear," he began, slowly and laboriously as 
was his wont. " I was thinkin how nice you looked jest now 
much better you know but somehow " he was taking long 
whiffs at his pipe, as usual, between each word, while she stood 
patiently waiting for him to finish " somehow, you alter so, my 
dear you re quite pale again all of a minute." 

She stood listening to him, noticing against her will the more 
than suspicion of cockney accent and the thick drawl with which 
the words were uttered. 

His eyes sought her face piteously. She noticed that too, and 
stood before him torn by conflicting emotions, pity and disgust 
struggling in a hand-to-hand fight within her. 

" Mr. Broomhurst and I are going down by the well to sit ; it s 
cooler there. Won t you come ? " she said at last gently. 


By Netta Syrett 243 

He did not reply for a moment, then he turned his head aside 
sharply for him. 

" No, my dear, thank you ; I m comfortable enough here," he 
returned huskily. 

She stood over him, hesitating a second, then moved abruptly to 
the table, from which she took a book. 

He had risen from his seat by the time she turned to go out, and 
he intercepted her timorously. 

" Kathie, give me a kiss before you go," he whispered hoarsely. 
" I I don t often bother you." 

She drew her breath in deeply as he put his arms clumsily about 
her, but she stood still, and he kissed her on the forehead, and 
touched the little wavy curls that strayed across it gently with his 
big trembling fingers. 

When he released her she moved at once impetuously to the 
open doorway. On the threshold she hesitated, paused a moment 
irresolutely, and then turned back. 

" Shall I Does your pipe want filling, John ? " she asked 


" No, thank you, my dear." 

"Would you like me to stay, read to you, or anything ?" 

He looked up at her wistfully. " N-no, thank you, I m not 
much of a reader, you know, my dear somehow." 

She hated herself for knowing that there would be a " my dear," 
probably a "somehow " in his reply, and despised herself for the 
sense of irritated impatience she felt by anticipation, even before 
the words were uttered. 

There was a moment s hesitating silence, broken by the sound 
of quick firm footsteps without. Broomhurst paused at the 
entrance, and looked into the tent. 

" Aren t you coming, Drayton ? " he asked, looking first at 

Dray ton s 

244 Thy Heart s Desire 

Drayton s wife and then swiftly putting in his name with a 
scarcely perceptible pause. " Too lazy ? But you, Mrs. Dray- 
ton ? " 

" Yes, I m coming," she said. 

They left the tent together, and walked some few steps in silence. 

Broomhurst shot a quick glance at his companion s face. 

" Anything wrong ? " he asked presently. 

Though the words were ordinary enough, the voice in which 
they were spoken was in some subtle fashion a different voice from 
that in which he had talked to her nearly two months ago, though 
it would have required a keen sense of nice shades in sound to 
have detected the change. 

Mrs. Drayton s sense of niceties in sound was particularly keen, 
but she answered quietly, " Nothing, thank you." 

They did not speak again till the trees round the stone-well 
were reached. 

Broomhurst arranged their seats comfortably beside it. 

" Are we going to read or talk ? " he asked, looking up at her 
from his lower place. 

" Well, we generally talk most when we arrange to read, so 
shall we agree to talk to-day for a change, by way of getting some 
reading done ? " she rejoined, smiling. " Ton begin." 

Broomhurst seemed in no hurry to avail himself of the per 
mission, he was apparently engrossed in watching the flecks of 
sunshine on Mrs. Drayton s white dress. The whirring of insects, 
and the creaking of a Persian wheel somewhere in the neighbour 
hood, filtered through the hot silence. 

Mrs. Drayton laughed after a few minutes ; there was a touch 
of embarrassment in the sound. 

" The new plan doesn t answer. Suppose you read as usual, 
and let me interrupt, also as usual, after the first two lines." 


By Netta Syrett 245 

He opened the book obediently, but turned the pages at random. 

She watched him for a moment, and then bent a little forward 
towards him. 

" It is my turn now," she said suddenly. " Is anything wrong ?" 

He raised his head, and their eyes met. There was a pause. 
"I will be more honest than you," he returned. "Yes, there is." 

" What ? " 

" I ve had orders to move on." 

She drew back, and her lips whitened, though she kept them 

" When do you go ? " 

" On Wednesday." 

There was silence again ; the man still kept his eyes on her 

The whirring of the insects and the creaking of the wheel 
had suddenly grown so strangely loud and insistent, that it was in 
a half-dazed fashion she at length heard her name " Kathleen ! : 

" Kathleen ! " he whispered again hoarsely. 

She looked him full in the face, and once more their eyes met 
in a long grave gaze. 

The man s face flushed, and he half rose from his seat with an 
impetuous movement, but Kathleen stopped him with a glance. 

"Will you go and fetch my work? I left it in the tent," she 
said, speaking very clearly and distinctly ; " and then will you go 
on reading ? I will find the place while you are gone." 

She took the book from his hand, and he rose and stood before 

There was a mute appeal in his silence, and she raised her head 

Her face was white to the lips, but she looked at him unflinch 
ingly ; and without a word he turned and left her. 

Mrs. Dray ton 

246 Thy Heart s Desire 


Mrs. Drayton was resting in the tent on Tuesday afternoon. 
With the help of cushions and some low chairs she had improvised 
a couch, on which she lay quietly with her eyes closed. There 
was a tenseness, however, in her attitude which indicated that 
sleep was far from her. 

Her features seemed to have sharpened during the last few days, 
and there were hollows in her cheeks. She had been very still for 
a long time, but all at once with a sudden movement she turned 
her head and buried her face in the cushions with a groan. 
Slipping from her place she fell on her knees beside the couch, 
and put both hands before her mouth to force back the cry that 
she felt struggling to her lips. 

For some moments the wild effort she was making for outward 
calm, which even when she was alone was her first inst net, strained 
every nerve and blotted out sight and hearing, and it was not till 
the sound was very near that she was conscious of the ring of 
horse s hoofs on the plain. 

She raised her head sharply with a thrill of fear, still kneeling, 
and listened. 

There was no mistake. The horseman was riding in hot haste, 
for the thud of the hoofs followed one another swiftly. 

As Mrs. Drayton listened her white face grew whiter, and she 
began to tremble. Putting out shaking hands, she raised herself 
by the arms of the folding-chair and stood upright. 

Nearer and nearer came the thunder of the approaching sound, 
mingled with startled exclamations and the noise of trampling feet 
from the direction of the kitchen tent. 


By Netta Syrett 247 

Slowly, mechanically almost, she dragged herself to the entrance, 
and stood clinging to the canvas there. By the time she had 
reached it, Broomhurst had flung himself from the saddle, and had 
thrown the reins to one of the men. 

Mrs. Drayton stared at him with wide bright eyes as he hastened 
towards her. 

" I thought you you are not " she began, and then her 

teeth began to chatter. "I am so cold ! " she said, in a little weak 

Broomhurst took her hand, and led her over the threshold back 
into the tent. 

" Don t be so frightened," he implored ; " I came to tell you 

first. I thought it wouldn t frighten you so much as Your 

Drayton is very ill. They are bringing him. I " 

He paused. She gazed at him a moment with parted lips, 
then she broke into a horrible discordant laugh, and stood clinging 
to the back of a chair. 

Broomhurst started back. 

" Do you understand what I mean ? " he whispered. "Kathleen, 
for God s sake don t he is dead" 

He looked over his shoulder as he spoke, her shrill laughter 
ringing in his ears. The white glare and dazzle of the plain 
stretched before him, framed by the entrance to the tent ; far off, 
against the horizon, there were moving black specks, which he 
knew to be the returning servants with their still burden. 

They were bringing John Drayton home. 


248 Thy Heart s Desire 

One afternoon, some months later, Broomhurst climbed the steep 
lane leading to the cliffs of a little English village by the sea. He 
had already been to the inn, and had been shown by the proprietress 
the house where Mrs. Drayton lodged. 

"The lady was out, but the gentleman would likely find her if 
he went to the cliffs down by the bay, or thereabouts," her land 
lady explained, and, obeying her directions, Broomhurst presently 
emerged from the shady woodland path on to the hillside over 
hanging the sea. 

He glanced eagerly round him, and then with a sudden quicken 
ing of the heart, walked on over the springy heather to where she 
sat. She turned when the rustling his footsteps made through 
the bracken was near enough to arrest her attention, and looked 
up at him as he came. Then she rose slowly and stood waiting 
for him. He came up to her without a word and seized both her 
hands, devouring her face with his eyes. Something he saw there 
repelled him. Slowly he let her hands fall, still looking at her 
silently. " You are not glad to see me, and I have counted the 
hours," he said at last in a dull toneless voice. 

Her lips quivered. " Don t be angry with me I can t help it 
I m not glad or sorry for anything now," she answered, and her 
voice matched his for greyness. 

They sat down together on a long flat stone half embedded in 
a wiry clump of whortleberries. Behind them the lonely hill 
sides rose, brilliant with yellow bracken and the purple of heather. 
Before them stretched the wide sea. It was a soft grey day. 
Streaks of pale sunlight trembled at moments far out on the water. 


By Netta Syrett 249 

The tide was rising in the little bay above which they sat, and 
Broomhurst watched the lazy foam-edged waves slipping over the 
uncovered rocks towards the shore, then sliding back as though 
for very weariness they despaired of reaching it. The muffled 
pulsing sound of the sea filled the silence. Broomhurst thought 
suddenly of hot Eastern sunshine, of the whirr of insect wings on the 
still air, and the creaking of a wheel in the distance. He turned 
and looked at his companion. 

" I have come thousands of miles to see you," he said ; " aren t 
you going to speak to me now I am here ? " 

"Why did you come ? I told you not to come," she answered, 
falteringly. " I " she paused. 

" And I replied that I should follow you if you remember," 
he answered, still quietly. " I came because I would not listen to 
what you said then, at that awful time. You didn t know yourself 
what you said. No wonder ! I have given you some months, 
and now I have come." 

There was silence between them. Broomhurst saw that she 
was crying ; her tears fell fast on to her hands, that were clasped in 
her lap. Her face, he noticed, was thin and drawn. 

Very gently he put his arm round her shoulder and drew her 
nearer to him. She made no resistance it seemed that she did 
not notice the movement ; and his arm dropped at his side. 

" You asked me why I had come ? You think it possible that 
three months can change one, very thoroughly, then ? " he said in 
a cold voice. 

"I not only think it possible, I have proved it," she replied 

He turned round and faced her. 

" You did love me, Kathleen ! " he asserted ; " you never said 
so in words, but I know it," he added fiercely. 


250 Thy Heart s Desire 

Yes, I did." 

" And You mean that you don t now ? " 

Her voice was very tired. " Yes I can t help it," she answered, 
"it has gone utterly." 

The grey sea slowly lapped the rocks. Overhead the sharp 
scream of a gull cut through the stillness. It was broken again, 
a moment afterwards, by a short hard laugh from the man. 

"Don t!" she whispered, and laid a hand swiftly on his arm. 
" Do you think it isn t worse for me ? I wish to God I did love 
you," she cried passionately. " Perhaps it would make me forget 
that to all intents and purposes I am a murderess." 

Broomhurst met her wide despairing eyes with an amazement 
which yielded to sudden pitying comprehension. 

" So that is it, my darling ? You are worrying about that ? 

You who were as loyal, as " 

She stopped him with a frantic gesture. 

" Don t ! don t ! " she wailed. " If you only knew ; let me try 
to tell you will you ?" she urged pitifully. "It may be better if 
I tell some one if I don t keep it all to myself, and think, and 

She clasped her hands tight, with the old gesture he remem 
bered when she was struggling for self-control, and waited a 

Presently she began to speak in a low hurried tone : " It began 
before you came. I know now what the feeling was that I was 
afraid to acknowledge to myself. I used to try and smother it, 
I used to repeat things to myself all day poems, stupid rhymes 
anything to keep my thoughts quite underneath but I hated 
John before you came ! We had been married nearly a year then. 
I never loved him. Of course you are going to say : Why did 
you marry him ? She looked drearily over the placid sea. 


By Netta Syrett 251 

" Why did I marry him ? I don t know ; for the reason that 
hundreds of ignorant inexperienced girls marry, I suppose. My 
home wasn t a happy one. I was miserable, and oh, restless. 
I wonder if men know what it feels like to be restless ? Some 
times I think they can t even guess. John wanted me very badly 
nobody wanted me at home particularly. There didn t seem to 
be any point in my life. Do you understand ? . . . . Of course 
being alone with him in that little camp in that silent plain" 
she shuddered " made things worse. My nerves went all to 
pieces. Everything he said his voice his accent his walk 
the way he ate irritated me so that I longed to rush out some 
times and shriek and go mad. Does it sound ridiculous to you 
to be driven mad by such trifles ? I only know I used to get up 
from the table sometimes and walk up and down outside, with 
both hands over my mouth to keep myself quiet. And all the 
time I hated myself how I hated myself ! I never had a word 
from him that wasn t gentle and tender. I believe he loved the 
ground I walked on. Oh, it is awful to be loved like that, 

when you " She drew in her breath with a sob. I I it 

made me sick for him to come near me to touch me." She 
stopped a moment. 

Broomhurst gently laid his hand on her quivering one. " Poor 
little girl ! " he murmured. 

" Then you came," she said, " and before long I had another 
feeling to fight against. At first I thought it couldn t be true 
that I loved you it would die down. I think I was frightened 
at the feeling ; I didn t know it hurt so to love any one." 

Broomhurst stirred a little. " Go on," he said tersely. 

" But it didn t die," she continued in a trembling whisper, and 
the other awful feeling grew stronger and stronger hatred ; no, 
that is not the word loathing for for John. I fought against 


252 Thy Heart s Desire 

it. Yes," she cried feverishly, clasping and unclasping her hands, 
"Heaven knows I fought it with all my strength, and reasoned 
with myself, and oh, I did everything, but " Her quick- 
falling tears made speech difficult. 

"Kathleen!" Broomhurst urged desperately, "you couldn t 
help it, you poor child. You say yourself you struggled against 
your feelings you were always gentle. Perhaps he didn t 

"But he did he did" she wailed, " it is just that. I hurt 
him a hundred times a day ; he never said so, but I knew it ; and 
yet I couldn t be kind to him except in words and he understood. 
And after you came it was worse in one way, for he knew. I 
felt he knew that I loved you. His eyes used to follow me like a 
dog s, and I was stabbed with remorse, and I tried to be good to 
him, but I couldn t." 

" But he didn t suspect he trusted you," began Broomhurst. 
" He had every reason. No woman was ever so loyal, so " 

" Hush," she almost screamed. " Loyal ! it was the least I 

could do to stop you, I mean when you After all, I knew it 

without your telling me. I had deliberately married him without 
loving him. It was my own fault. I felt it. Even if I couldn t 
prevent his knowing that I hated him, I could prevent that. It 
was my punishment. I deserved it for daring to marry without 
love. But I didn t spare John one pang, after all," she added 
bitterly. " He knew what I felt towards him I don t think he 
cared about anything else. You say I mustn t reproach myself ? 
When I went back to the tent that morning when you when 
I stopped you from saying you loved me, he was sitting at the 
table with his head buried in his hands ; he was crying bitterly : 
I saw him it is terrible to see a man cry and I stole away 
gently, but he saw me. I was torn to pieces, but I couldn t go 


By Netta Syrett 253 

to him. I knew he would kiss me, and I shuddered to think of 
it. It seemed more than ever not to be borne that he should do 
that when I knew you loved me." 

" Kathleen," cried her lover again, " don t dwell on it all so 
terribly don t " 

" How can I forget ? " she answered despairingly, "and then " 
she lowered her voice " oh, I can t tell you all the time, at the 
back of my mind somewhere, there wasaburningwish that he might 
die. I used to lie awake at night, and do what I would to stifle it, 
that thought used to scorch me, I wished it so intensely. Do you 
believe that by willing one can bring such things to pass ? " she 
asked, looking at Broomhurst with feverishly bright eyes. " No ? 
well, I don t know I tried to smother it. I really tried, 
but it was there, whatever other thoughts I heaped on the top. 
Then, when I heard the horse galloping across the plain that 
morning, I had a sick fear that it was you. I knew something had 
happened, and my first thought when I saw you alive and well, 
and knew that it was John^ was, that it was too good to be true. I 
believe I laughed like a maniac, didn t I ? .... Not to blame ? 
Why, if it hadn t been for me he wouldn t have died. The 
men say they saw him sitting with his head uncovered in the 
burning sun, his face buried in his hands just as I had seen 
him the day before. He didn t trouble to be careful he was too 

She paused, and Broomhurst rose and began to pace the little 
hillside path at the edge of which they were seated. 

Presently he came back to her. 

" Kathleen, let me take care of you," he implored, stooping 
towards her. " We have only ourselves to consider in this 
matter. Will you come to me at once ? 

She shook her head sadly. 


An Idyll 

By W. Brown Mac Dougal 


Reticence in Literature 

Some Roundabout Remarks 

By Hubert Crackanthorpe 

DURING the past fifty years, as every one knows, the art of 
fiction has been expanding in a manner exceedingly 
remarkable, till it has grown to be the predominant branch of 
imaginative literature. But the other day we were assured that 
poetry only thrives in limited and exquisite editions ; that the 
drama, here in England at least, has practically ceased to be litera 
ture at all. Each epoch instinctively chooses that literary vehicle 
which is best adapted for the expression of its particular temper : 
just as the drama flourished in the robust age of Shakespeare and 
Ben Jonson ; just as that outburst of lyrical poetry, at the begin 
ning of the century in France, coincided with a period of extreme 
emotional exaltation ; so the novel, facile and flexible in its con 
ventions, with its endless opportunities for accurate delineation of 
reality, becomes supreme in a time of democracy and of science 
to note but these two salient characteristics. 

And, if we pursue this light of thought, we find that, on all 
sides, the novel is being approached in one especial spirit, that it 
would seem to be striving, for the moment at any rate, to perfect 
itself within certain definite limitations. To employ a hackeyed, 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. P and 

260 Reticence in Literature 

and often quite unintelligent, catchword the novel is becoming 

Throughout the history of literature, the jealous worship of 
beauty which we term idealism and the jealous worship of truth 
which we term realism have alternately prevailed. Indeed, it is 
within the compass of these alternations that lies the whole fun 
damental diversity of literary temper. 

Still, the classification is a clumsy one, for no hard and fast line 
can be drawn between the one spirit and the other. The so-called 
idealist must take as his point of departure the facts of Nature ; the 
so-called realist must be sensitive to some one or other of the 
forms of beauty, if each would achieve the fineness of great art. 
And the pendulum of production is continually swinging, from 
degenerate idealism to degenerate realism, from effete vapidity to 
slavish sordidity. 

Either term, then, can only be employed in a purely limited 
and relative sense. Completely idealistic art art that has no point 
of contact with the facts of the universe, as we know them is, of 
course, an impossible absurdity ; similarly, a complete reproduction 
of Nature by means of words is an absurd impossibility. Neither 
emphasization nor abstraction can be dispensed with : the one, 
eliminating the details of no import ; the other, exaggerating those 
which the artist has selected. And, even were such a thing 
possible, it would not be Art. The invention of a highly perfected 
system of coloured photography, for instance, or a skilful recording 
by means of the phonograph of scenes in real life, would not sub 
tract one whit from the value of the painter s or the playwright s 
interpretation. Art is not invested with the futile function of 
perpetually striving after imitation or reproduction of Nature ; she 
endeavours to produce, through the adaptation of a restricted number 
of natural facts, an harmonious and satisfactory whole. Indeed, in 


By Hubert Crackanthorpe 261 

this very process of adaptation and blending together, lies the main 
and greater task of the artist. And the novel, the short story, 
even the impression of a mere incident, convey each of them, the 
imprint of the temper in which their creator has achieved this 
process of adaptation and blending together of his material. They 
are inevitably stamped with the hall-mark of his personality. A 
work of art can never be more than a corner of Nature, seen 
through the temperament of a single man. Thus, all literature is, 
must be, essentially subjective ; for style is but the power of 
individual expression. The disparity which separates literature 
from the reporter s transcript is ineradicable. There is a quality 
of ultimate suggestiveness to be achieved ; for the business of art 
is, not to explain or to describe, but to suggest. That attitude of 
objectivity, or of impersonality towards his subject, consciously or 
unconsciously, assumed by the artist, and which nowadays provokes 
so considerable an admiration, can be attained only in a limited 
degree. Every piece of imaginative work must be a kind of 
autobiography of its creator significant, if not of the actual facts 
of his existence, at least of the inner working of his soul. We are 
each of us conscious, not of the whole world, but of our own 
world ; not of naked reality, but of that aspect of reality which 
our peculiar temperament enables us to appropriate. Thus, every 
narrative of an external circumstance is never anything else than 
the transcript of the impression produced upon ourselves by that 
circumstance, and, invariably, a degree of individual interpretation 
is insinuated into every picture, real or imaginary, however 
objective it may be. So then, the disparity between the so-called 
idealist and the so-called realist is a matter, not of aesthetic philo 
sophy, but of individual temperament. Each is at work, according 
to the especial bent of his genius, within precisely the same limits. 
Realism, as a creed, is as ridiculous as any other literary creed. 


262 Reticence in Literature 

Now, it would have been exceedingly curious if this recent 
specialisation of the art of fiction, this passion for draining from the 
life, as it were, born, in due season, of the general spirit of the 
latter half of the nineteenth century, had notprovoked a considerable 
amount of opposition opposition of just that kind which every 
new evolution in art inevitably encounters. Between the vanguard 
and the main body there is perpetual friction. 

But time flits quickly in this hurried age of ours, and the 
opposition to the renascence of fiction as a conscientious interpre 
tation of life is not what it was ; its opponents are not the men 
they were. It is not so long since a publisher was sent to prison 
for issuing English translations of celebrated specimens of French 
realism ; yet, only the other day, we vied with each other in doing 
honour to the chief figure-head of that tendency across the Channel, 
and there was heard but the belated protest of a few worthy indi 
viduals, inadequately equipped with the jaunty courage of ignorance, 
or the insufferable confidence of second-hand knowledge. 

And during the past year things have been moving very rapidly. 
The position of the literary artist towards Nature, his great 
inspirer, has become more definite, more secure. A sound, organ 
ised opinion of men of letters is being acquired ; and in the little 
bouts with the bourgeois if I may be pardoned the use of that 
wearisome word no one has to fight single-handed. Heroism is 
at a discount ; Mrs. Grundy is becoming mythological ; a crowd 
of unsuspected supporters collect from all sides, and the deadly 
conflict of which we had been warned becomes but an interesting 
skirmish. Books are published, stories are printed, in old-established 
reviews, which would never have been tolerated a few years ago. 
On all sides, deference to the tendency of the time is spreading. 
The truth must be admitted : the roar of unthinking prejudice is 
dying away. 


By Hubert Crackanthorpe 263 

All this is exceedingly comforting : and yet, perhaps, it is not a 
matter for absolute congratulation. For, if the enemy are not 
dying as gamely as we had expected, if they are, as I am afraid, 
losing heart, and in danger of sinking into a condition of passive 
indifference, it should be to us a matter of not inconsiderable 
apprehension. If this new evolution in the art of fiction this 
general return of the literary artist towards Nature, on the brink 
of which we are to-day hesitating is to achieve any definite, 
ultimate fineness of expression, it will benefit enormously by the 
continued presence of a healthy, vigorous, if not wholly intelligent, 
body of opponents. Directly or indirectly, they will knock a lot 
of nonsense out of us, will these opponents ; why should we be 
ashamed to admit it ? They will enable us to find our level, they 
will spur us on to bring out the best and only the best that is 
within us. 

Take, for instance, the gentleman who objects to realistic fiction 
on moral grounds. If he does not stand the most conspicuous 
to-day, at least he was pre-eminent the day before yesterday. He is 
a hard case, and it is on his especial behalf that I would appeal. For 
he has been dislodged from the hill top, he has become a target for all 
manner of unkind chaff, from the ribald youth of Fleet Street and 
Chelsea. He has been labelled a Philistine : he has been twitted 
with his middle-age ; he has been reported to have compromised 
himself with that indecent old person, Mrs. Grundy. It is confi 
dently asserted that he comes from Putney, or from Sheffield, and 
that, when he is not busy abolishing the art of English literature, 
he is employed in safeguarding the interests of the grocery or 
tallow-chandler s trade. Strange and cruel tales of him have been 
printed in the monthly reviews ; how, but for him, certain well- 
known popular writers would have written masterpieces ; how, 
like the ogre in the fairy tale, he consumes every morning at break 

264 Reticence in Literature 

fast a hundred pot-boiled young geniuses. For the most part they 
have been excellently well told, these tales of this moral ogre of 
ours ; but why start to shatter brutally their dainty charm by a 
soulless process of investigation ? No, let us be shamed rather into 
a more charitable spirit, into making generous amends, into reha 
bilitating the greatness of our moral ogre. 

He is the backbone of our nation ; the guardian of our medio 
crity ; the very foil of our intelligence. Once, you fancied that 
you could argue with him, that you could dispute his dictum. 
Ah ! how we cherished that day-dream of our extreme youth. 
But it was not to be. He is still immense ; for he is unassail 
able ; he is flawless, for he is complete within himself; his 
lucidity is yet unimpaired ; his impartiality is yet supreme. 
Who amongst us could judge with a like impartiality the 
productions of Scandinavia and Charpentier, Walt Whitman, 
and the Independent Theatre ? Let us remember that he 
has never professed to understand Art, and the deep debt of 
gratitude that every artist in the land should consequently owe to 
him ; let us remember that he is above us, for he belongs to the 
great middle classes ; let us remember that he commands votes, 
that he is candidate for the County Council ; let us remember that 
he is delightful, because he is intelligible. 

Yes, he is intelligible ; and of how many of us can that be said ? 
His is no complex programme, no subtly exacting demand. A 
plain moral lesson is all that he asks, and his voice is as of one 
crying in the ever fertile wilderness of Smith and of Mudie. 

And he is right, after all if he only knew it. The business 
of art is to create for us fine interests, to make of our human 
nature a more complete thing : and thus, all great art is moral in 
the wider and the truer sense of the word. It is precisely on this 
point of the meaning of the word " moral " that we and our ogre 


By Hubert Crackanthorpe 265 

part company. To him, morality is concerned only with the 
established relations between the sexes and with fair dealing between 
man and man : to him the subtle, indirect morality of Art is 

Theoretically, Art is non-moral. She is not interested in any 
ethical code of any age or any nation, except in so far as the 
breach or observance of that code may furnish her with material 
on which to work. But, unfortunately, in this complex world of 
ours, we cannot satisfactorily pursue one interest no, not even the 
interest of Art, at the expense of all others let us look that fact in 
the face, doggedly, whatever pangs it may cost us pleading mag 
nanimously for the survival of our moral ogre, for there will be 
danger to our cause when his voice is no more heard. 

If imitation be the sincerest form of flattery, then our moral 
ogre must indeed have experienced a proud moment, when a 
follower came to him from the camp of the lovers of Art, and the 
artistic objector to realistic fiction started on his timid career. I 
use the word timid in no disparaging sense, but because our 
artistic objector, had he ventured a little farther from the vicinity 
of the coat-tails of his powerful protector, might have secured a 
more adequate recognition of his performances. For he is by no 
means devoid of adroitness. He can patter to us glibly of the 
" gospel of ugliness " ; of the " cheerlessness of modern literature " ; 
he can even juggle with that honourable property-piece, the maxim 
of Art for Art s sake. But there have been moments when even 
this feat has proved ineffective, and some one has started scoffing 
at his pretended " delight in pure rhythm or music of the phrase," 
and flippantly assured him that he is talking nonsense, and that 
style is a mere matter of psychological suggestion. You fancy 
our performer nonplussed, or at least boldly bracing himself to 
brazen the matter out. No, he passes dexterously to his curtain 


266 Reticence in Literature 

effect a fervid denunciation of express trains, evening news 
papers, Parisian novels, or the first number of THE YELLOW 
BOOK. Verily, he is a versatile person. 

Sometimes, to listen to him you would imagine that pessimism 
and regular meals were incompatible ; that the world is only 
ameliorated by those whom it completely satisfies, that good pre 
dominates over evil, that the problem of our destiny had been 
solved long ago. You begin to doubt whether any good thing 
can come out of this miserable, inadequate age of ours, unless it 
be a doctored survival of the vocabulary of a past century. The 
language of the coster and cadger resound in our midst, and, 
though Velasquez tried to paint like Whistler, Rudyard Kipling 
cannot write like Pope. And a weird word has been invented to 
explain the whole business. Decadence, decadence : you are all 
decadent nowadays. Ibsen, Degas, and the New English Art 
Club ; Zola, Oscar Wilde, and the Second Mrs. Tanqueray. 
Mr. Richard Le Gallienne is hoist with his own petard ; even the 
British playwright has not escaped the taint. Ah, what a hideous 
spectacle. All whirling along towards one common end. And 
the elegant voice of the artistic objector floating behind : " Aprh 
vous le dlluge" A wholesale abusing of the tendencies of the age 
has ever proved, for the superior mind, an inexhaustible source 
of relief. Few things breed such inward comfort as the con 
templation of one s own pessimism few things produce such 
discomfort as the remembrance of our neighbour s optimism. 

And yet, pessimists though we may be dubbed, some of us, on 
this point at least, how can we compete with the hopelessness 
enjoyed by our artistic objector, when the spectacle of his despond 
ency makes us insufferably replete with hope and confidence, so 
that while he is loftily bewailing or prettily denouncing the com 
pleteness of our degradation, we continue to delight in the evil of 


By Hubert Crackanthorpe 267 

our ways ? Oh, if we could only be sure that he would persevere 
in reprimanding this persistent study of the pitiable aspects of life, 
how our hearts would go out towards him ? For the man who 
said that joy is essentially, regrettably inartistic, admitted in the 
same breath that misery lends itself to artistic treatment twice as 
easily as joy, and resumed the whole question in a single phrase. 
Let our artistic objector but weary the world sufficiently with his 
despair concerning the permanence of the cheerlessness of modern 
realism, and some day a man will arise who will give us a study of 
human happiness, as fine, as vital as anything we owe to Guy de 
Maupassant or to Ibsen. That man will have accomplished the 
infinitely difficult, and in admiration and in awe shall we bow 
down our heads before him. 

In one radical respect the art of fiction is not in the same 
position as the other arts. They music, poetry, painting, sculp 
ture, and the drama possess a magnificent fabric of accumu 
lated tradition. The great traditions of the art of fiction have 
yet to be made. Ours is a young art, struggling desperately to reach 
expression, with no great past to guide it. Thus, it should be a 
matter for wonder, not that we stumble into certain pitfalls, but 
that we do not fall headlong into a hundred more. 

But, if we have no great past, we have the present and the 
future the one abundant in facilities, the other abundant in pos 
sibilities. Young men of to-day have enormous chances : we are 
working under exceedingly favourable conditions. Possibly we 
stand on the threshold of a very great period. I know, of course, 
that the literary artist is shamefully ill-paid, and that the man who 
merely caters for the public taste, amasses a rapid and respectable 
fortune. But how is it that such an arrangement seems other 
than entirely equitable? The essential conditions of the two cases 
are entirely distinct. The one man is free to give untrammelled 


268 Reticence in Literature 

expression to his own soul, free to fan to the full the flame that 
burns in his heart : the other is a seller of wares, a unit in national 
commerce. To the one is allotted liberty and a living wage ; to 
the other, captivity and a consolation in Consols. Let us whine, 
then, no more concerning the prejudice and the persecution of the 
Philistine, when even that misanthrope, Mr. Robert Buchanan, 
admits that there is no power in England to prevent a man writing 
exactly as he pleases. Before long the battle for literary freedom 
will be won. A new public has been created appreciative, eager 
and determined ; a public which, as Mr. Gosse puts it, in one of 
those admirable essays of his, " has eaten of the apple of know 
ledge, and will not be satisfied with mere marionnettes. Whatever 
comes next," Mr. Gosse continues, " we cannot return, in serious 
novels, to the inanities and impossibilites of the old well-made 
plot, to the children changed at nurse, to the madonna-heroine and 
the god-like hero, to the impossible virtues and melodramatic 
vices. In future, even those who sneer at realism and misrepre 
sent it most wilfully, will be obliged to put their productions more 
in accordance with veritable experience. There will still be 
novel-writers who address the gallery, and who will keep up the 
gaudy old convention, and the clumsy Family Herald evolution, 
but they will no longer be distinguished men of genius. They 
will no longer sign themselves George Sand or Charles Dickens." 
Fiction has taken her place amongst the arts. The theory that 
writing resembles the blacking of boots, the more boots you black, 
the better you do it, is busy evaporating. The excessive admira 
tion for the mere idea of a book or a story is dwindling ; so is the 
comparative indifference to slovenly treatment. True is it that 
the society lady, dazzled by the brilliancy of her own conversation, 
and the serious-minded spinster, bitten by some sociological theory, 
still decide in the old jaunty spirit, that fiction is the obvious 


By Hubert Crackanthorpe 269 

medium through which to astonish or improve the world. Let us 
beware of the despotism of the intelligent amateur, and cease our 
toying with that quaint and winsome bogey of ours, the British 
Philistine, whilst the intelligent amateur, the deadliest of Art s 
enemies, is creeping up in our midst. 

For the familiarity of the man in the street with the material 
employed by the artist in fiction, will ever militate against the 
acquisition of a sound, fine, and genuine standard of workmanship. 
Unlike the musician, the painter, the sculptor, the architect, the 
artist in fiction enjoys no monopoly in his medium. The word 
and the phrase are, of necessity, the common property of everybody ; 
the ordinary use of them demands no special training. Hence the 
popular mind, while willingly acknowledging that there are 
technical difficulties to be surmounted in the creation of the 
sonata, the landscape, the statue, the building, in the case of the 
short story, or of the longer novel, declines to believe even in their 
existence, persuaded that in order to produce good fiction, an 
ingenious idea, or " plot," as it is termed, is the one thing needed. 
The rest is a mere matter of handwriting. 

The truth is, and, despite Mr. Waugh, we are near recognition 
of it, that nowadays there is but scanty merit in the mere 
selection of any particular subject, however ingenious or daring it 
may appear at first sight ; that a man is not an artist, simply 
because he writes about heredity or the demi-monde^ that to call a 
spade a spade requires no extraordinary literary gift, and that the 
essential is contained in the frank, fearless acceptance by every 
man of his entire artistic temperament, with its qualities and its 

Two Drawings 

By E. J. Sullivan 

I. The Old Man s Garden 
II. The Quick and the Dead 


My Study 

By Alfred Hayes 

Er others strive for wealth or praise 
Who care to win ; 
I count myself full blest, if He, 
Who made my study fair to see, 
Grant me but length of quiet days 
To muse therein. 

Its walls, with peach and cherry clad, 

From yonder wold 
Unbosomed, seem as if thereon 
September sunbeams ever shone ; 
They make the air look warm and glad 

When winds are cold. 

Around its door a clematis 

Her arms doth tie ; 
Through leafy lattices I view 
Its endless corridors of blue 
Curtained with clouds ; its ceiling is 

The marbled sky. 

A verdant 

276 My Study 

A verdant carpet smoothly laid 

Doth oft invite 

My silent steps ; thereon the sun 
With silver thread of dew hath spun 
Devices rare the warp of shade, 
The weft of lighc. 

Here dwell my chosen books, whose leaves 

With healing breath 
The ache of discontent assuage, 
And speak from each illumined page 
The patience that my soul reprieves 

From inward death ; 

Some perish with a season s wind, 

And some endure ; 
One robes itself in snow, and one 
In raiment of the rising sun 
Bordered with gold ; in all I find 
God s signature. 

As on my grassy couch I lie, 

From hedge and tree 
Musicians pipe ; or if the heat 
Subdue the birds, one crooneth sweet 
Whose labour is a lullaby 

The slumbrous bee. 


By Alfred Hayes 277 

The sun my work doth overlook 

With searching light ; 
The serious moon, the flickering star, 
My midnight lamp and candle are; 
A soul unhardened is the book 

Wherein I write. 

There labouring, my heart is eased 

Of every care ; 

Yet often wonderstruck I stand, 
With earnest gaze but idle hand, 
Abashed for God Himself is pleased 

To labour there. 

Ashamed my faultful task to spell, 

I watch how grows 
The Master s perfect colour-scheme 
Of sunset, or His simpler dream 
Of moonlight, or that miracle 
We name a rose. 

Dear Earth, one thought alone doth grieve- 

The tender dread 
Of parting from thee ; as a child, 
Who painted while his father smiled, 
Then watched him paint, is loth to leave 

And go to bed. 

A Reminiscence of 
" The Transgressor 

By Francis Forster 

A Letter to the Editor 

From Max Beerbohm 

DEAR SIR, When THE YELLOW BOOK appeared I was in 
Oxford. So literary a little town is Oxford that its under 
graduates see a newspaper nearly as seldom as the Venetians see a 
horse, and until yesterday, when coming to London, I found in 
the album of a friend certain newspaper cuttings, I had not known 
how great was the wrath of the pressmen. 

What in the whole volume seems to have provoked the most 
ungovernable fury is, I am sorry to say, an essay about Cosmetics 
that I myself wrote. Of this it was impossible for any one to speak 
calmly. The mob lost its head, and, so far as any one in literature 
can be lynched, I was. In speaking of me, one paper dropped 
the usual prefix of " Mr." as though I were a well-known 
criminal, and referred to me shortly as " Beerbohm " ; a second 
allowed me the "Mr." but urged that "a short Act of Parliament 
should be passed to make this kind of thing illegal " ; a third sug 
gested, rather tamely, that I should read one of Mr. William Watson s 
sonnets. More than one comic paper had a very serious poem 
about me, and a known adherent to the humour which, forest- 
like, is called new, declared my essay to be " the rankest and 
most nauseous thing in all literature." It was a bomb thrown by 
a cowardly decadent, another outrage by one of that desperate and 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. Q dangerous 

282 A Letter to the Editor 

dangerous band of madmen who must be mercilessly stamped out 
by a comity of editors. May I, Sir, in justice to myself and to 
you, who were gravely censured for harbouring me, step forward, 
and assure the affrighted mob that it is the victim of a hoax ? 
May I also assure it that I had no notion that it would be taken 
in ? Indeed, it seems incredible to me that any one on the face 
of the earth could fail to see that my essay, so grotesque in subject, 
in opinion so flippant, in style so wildly affected, was meant for 
a burlesque upon the " precious " school of writers. If I had 
only signed myself D. Cadent or Parrar Docks, or appended a 
note to say that the MS. had been picked up not a hundred 
miles from Tite Street, all the pressmen would have said that I had 
given them a very delicate bit of satire. But I did not. And 
hinC) as they themselves love to say, Hits lacrima. 

After all, I think it is a sound rule that a writer should not 
kick his critics. I simply wish to make them a friendly philoso 
phical suggestion. It seems to be thought that criticism holds in 
the artistic world much the same place as, in the moral world, is 
held by punishment " the vengeance taken by the majority upon 
such as exceed the limits of conduct imposed by that majority." 
As in the case of punishment, then, we must consider the effect 
produced by criticism upon its object, how far is it reformatory ? 
Personally, I cannot conceive how any artist can be hurt by 
remarks dropped from a garret into a gutter. Yet it is incontest 
able that many an illustrious artist has so been hurt. And these 
very remarks, so far from making him change or temper his 
method, have rather made that method intenser, have driven him 
to retire further within his own soul, by showing him how little he 
may hope for from the world but insult and ingratitude. 

In fact, the police-constable mode of criticism is a failure. 
True that, here and there, much beautiful work of the kind has 


From Max Beerbohm 283 

been done. In the old, old Quarterlies is many a slashing 
review, that, however absurd it be as criticism, we can hardly wish 
unwritten. In the National Observer, before its reformation, were 
countless fine examples of the cavilling method. The paper was 
rowdy, venomous and insincere. There was libel in every line of 
it. It roared with the lambs and bleated with the lions. It was 
a disgrace to journalism and a glory to literature. I think of it 
often with tears and desiderium. But the men who wrote these 
things stand upon a very different plane to the men employed 
as critics by the press of Great Britain. These must be judged, 
not by their workmanship, which is naught, but by the spirit 
that animates them and the consequence of their efforts. If only 
they could learn that it is for the critic to seek after beauty 
and to try to interpret it to others, if only they would give over 
their eternal fault-finding and not presume to interfere with the 
artist at his work, then with an equally small amount of ability 
our pressmen might do nearly as much good as they have hitherto 
done harm. Why should they regard writers with such enmity ? 
The average pressman, reviewing a book of stories or of poems by 
an unknown writer, seems not to think " where are the beauties of 
this work that I may praise them, and by my praise quicken the 
sense of beauty in others ? " He steadily applies himself to the 
ignoble task of plucking out and gloating over its defects. It is a 
pity that critics should show so little sympathy with writers, and 
curious when we consider that most of them tried to be writers 
themselves, once. Every new school that has come into the world, 
every new writer who has brought with him a new mode, they 
have rudely persecuted. The dulness of Ibsen, the obscurity of 
Meredith, the horrors of Zola all these are household words. It 
is not until the pack has yelled itself hoarse that the level voice of 
justice is heard in praise. To pretend that no generation is capable 


284 A Letter to the Editor 

of gauging the greatness of its own artists is the merest bauble-tit. 
Were it not for the accursed abuse of their function by the great 
body of critics, no poet need " live uncrown d, apart." Many and 
irreparable are the wrongs that our critics have done. At length 
let them repent with ashes upon their heads. Where they see not 
beauty, let them be silent, reverently feeling that it may yet be 
there, and train their dull senses in quest of it. 

Now is a good time for such penance. There are signs that 
our English literature has reached that point, when, like the 
literatures of all the nations that have been, it must fall at length 
into the hands of the decadents. The qualities that I tried 
in my essay to travesty paradox and marivaudage, lassitude, a 
love of horror and all unusual things, a love of argot and archaism 
and the mysteries of style are not all these displayed, some by 
one, some by another of les jeunes ^crivains ? Who knows but 
that Artifice is in truth at our gates and that soon she may pass 
through our streets ? Already the windows of Grub Street are 
crowded with watchful, evil faces. They are ready, the men of 
Grub Street, to pelt her, as they have pelted all that came before 
her. Let them come down while there is still time, and hang 
their houses with colours, and strew the road with flowers. Will 
they not, for once, do homage to a new queen ? By the time this 
letter appears, it may be too late ! 

Meanwhile, Sir, I am, your obedient servant, 

Oxford, May 94. 

A Study 

By Bernhard Sickert 



Life plucks thee back as by the golden hair 
Life, who had feigned to let thee go but now. 
Wealthy is Death already^ and can spare 
Evn such a prey as thou. 


The Coxon Fund 

By Henry James 

^npHEv vE got him for life ! " I said to myself that evening on 
my way back to the station ; but later, alone in the com 
partment (from Wimbledon to Waterloo, before the glory of the 
District Railway), I amended this declaration in the light of the 
sense that my friends would probably after all not enjoy a monopoly 
of Mr. Saltram. I won t pretend to have taken his vast measure on 
that first occasion ; but I think I had achieved a glimpse of what 
the privilege of his acquaintance might mean for many persons in 
the way of charges accepted. He had been a great experience, 
and it was this perhaps that had put me into a frame for divining 
that we should all have the honour, sooner or later, of dealing 
with him as a whole. Whatever impression I then received of 
the amount of this total, I had a full enough vision of the patience 
of the Mulvilles. He was staying with them for the winter ; 
Adelaide dropped it in a tone which drew the sting from the 
temporary. These excellent people might indeed have been 
content to give the circle of hospitality a diameter of six months ; 
but if they didn t say that he was staying for the summer as well 
it was only because this was more than they ventured to hope. I 


By Henry James 291 

remember that at dinner that evening he wore slippers, new and 
predominantly purple, of some queer carpet-stuff : but the Mul- 
villes were still in the stage of supposing that he might be 
snatched from them by higher bidders. At a later time they 
grew, poor dears, to fear no snatching ; but theirs was a fidelity 
which needed no help from competition to make them proud. 
Wonderful indeed as, when all was said, you inevitably pro 
nounced Frank Saltram, it was not to be overlooked that the 
Kent Mulvilles were in their way still more extraordinary ; as 
striking an instance as could easily be encountered of the familiar 
truth that remarkable men find remarkable conveniences. 

They had sent for me from Wimbledon to come out and dine, 
and there had been an implication in Adelaide s note (judged by 
her notes alone she might have been thought silly), that it was a 
c.ase in which something momentous was to be determined or done. 
I had never known them not to be in a state about somebody, and 
I daresay I tried to be droll on this point in accepting their invita 
tion. On finding myself in the presence of their latest revelation 
I had not at first felt irreverence droop and, thank heaven, I 
have never been absolutely deprived of that alternative in Mr. 
Saltram s company. I saw, however (I hasten to declare it), that 
compared to this specimen their other phoenixes had been birds of 
inconsiderable feather, and I afterwards took credit to myself for 
not having even in primal bewilderments made a mistake about 
the essence of the man. He had an incomparable gift ; I never 
was blind to it it dazzles me at present. It dazzles me perhaps 
even more in remembrance than in fact, for I m not unaware that 
for a subject so magnificent the imagination goes to some expense, 
inserting a jewel here and there or giving a twist to a plume. 
How the art of portraiture would rejoice in this figure if the art of 
portraiture had only the canvas ! Nature, however, had really 


292 The Coxon Fund 

rounded it, and if memory, hovering about it, sometimes holds her 
breath, this is because the voice that comes back was really 

Though the great man was an inmate and didn t dress he kept 

dinner on this occasion waiting long, and the first words he uttered 

on coming into the room were a triumphant announcement to 

Mulville that he had found out something. Not catching the 

allusion and gaping doubtless a little at his face, I privately asked 

Adelaide what he had found out. I shall never forget the look 

she gave me as she replied : " Everything ! " She really believed 

it. At that moment, at any rate, he had found out that the mercy 

of the Mulvilles was infinite. He had previously of course 

discovered, as I had myself for that matter, that their dinners were 

soignes. Let me not indeed, in saying this, neglect to declare that 

I shall falsify my counterfeit if I seem to hint that there was in 

his nature any ounce of calculation. He took whatever came, but 

he never plotted for it, and no man who was so much of an 

absorbent can ever have been so little of a parasite. He had a 

system of the universe, but he had no system of sponging that 

was quite hand to mouth. He had fine, gross, easy senses, but it 

was not his good-natured appetite that wrought confusion. If he 

had loved us for our dinners we could have paid with our dinners, 

and it would have been a great economy of finer matter. I make 

free in these connections with the plural possessive because, if I 

was never able to do what the Mulvilles did, and people with still 

bigger houses and simpler charities, I met, first and last, every 

demand of reflection, of emotion particularly perhaps those of 

gratitude and of resentment. No one, I think, paid the tribute 

of giving him up so often, and if it s rendering honour to borrow 

wisdow I have a right to talk of my sacrifices. He yielded 

lessons as the sea yields fish I lived for a while on this diet. 


By Henry James 293 

Sometimes it almost appeared to me that his massive, monstrous 
failure if failure after all it was had been intended for my 
private recreation. He fairly pampered my curiosity ; but the 
history of that experience would take me too far. This is not the 
large canvas I just now spoke of, and I would not have approached 
him with my present hand had it been a question of all the 
features. Frank Saltram s features, for artistic purposes, are verily 
the anecdotes that are to be gathered. Their name is legion, 
aud this is only one, of which the interest is that it concerns even 
more closely several other persons. Such episodes, as one looks 
back, are the little dramas that made up the innumerable facets of 
the big drama which is yet to be reported. 


It is furthermore remarkable that though the two stories are 
distinct my own, as it were, and this other, they equally began, 
in a manner, the first night of my acquaintance with Frank 
Saltram, the night I came back from Wimbledon so agitated with 
a new sense of life that, in London, for the very thrill of it, I 
could only walk home. Walking and swinging my stick, I over 
took, at Buckingham Gate, George Gravener, and George 
Gravener s story may be said to have begun with my making him, 
as our paths lay together, come home with me for a talk. I duly 
remember, let me parenthesise, that it was still more that or another 
person, and also that several years were to elapse before it was to 
extend to a second chapter. I had much to say to him, none the 
less, about my visit to the Mulvilles, whom he more indifferently 
knew, and I was at any rate so amusing that for long afterwards 


294 The Coxon Fund 

he never encountered me without asking for news of the old man 
of the sea. I hadn t said Mr. Saltram was old, and it was to be 
seen that he was of an age to outweather George Gravener. I 
had at that time a lodging in Ebury Street, and Gravener was 
staying at his brother s empty house in Eaton Square. At Cam 
bridge, five years before, even in our devastating set, his intellectual 
power had seemed to me almost awful. Some one had once asked 
me privately, with blanched cheeks, what it was then that after 
all such a mind as that left standing. " It leaves itself ! " I could 
recollect devoutly replying. I could smile at present at this 
reminiscence, for even before we got to Ebury Street I was struck 
with the fact that, save in the sense of being well set up on his 
legs, George Gravener had actually ceased to tower. The uni 
verse he laid low had somehow bloomed again the usual 
eminences were visible. I wondered whether he had lost his 
humour, or only, dreadful thought, had never had any not even 
when I had fancied him most Aristophanesque. What was the 
need of appealing to laughter, however, I could enviously inquire, 
where you might appeal so confidently to measurement ? Mr. 
Saltram s queer figure, his thick nose and hanging lip were fresh to 
me : in the light of my old friend s fine cold symmetry they 
presented mere success in amusing as the refuge of conscious 
ugliness. Already, at hungry twenty-six, Gravener looked as 
blank and parliamentary as if he were fifty and popular. In my 
scrap of a residence (he had a worldling s eye for its futile con 
veniences, but never a comrade s joke), I sounded Frank Saltram 
in his ears ; a circumstance I mention in order to note that even 
then I was surprised at his impatience of my enlivenment. As he 
had never before heard of the personage, it took indeed the form 
of impatience of the preposterous Mulvilles, his relation to whom, 
like mine, had had its origin in an early, a childish intimacy with 


By Henry James 295 

the young Adelaide, the fruit of multiplied ties in the previous 
generation. When she married Kent Mulville, who was older 
than Gravener and T, and much more amiable, I gained a friend, 
but Gravener practically lost one. We were affected in different 
ways by the form taken by what he called their deplorable social 
action the form (the term was also his) of nasty second-rate 
gush. I may have held in my for intMeur that the good people 
at Wimbledon were beautiful fools, but when he sniffed at them 
I couldn t help talcing the opposite line, for I already felt that 
even should we happen to agree it would always be for reasons 
that differed. It came home to me that he was admirably British 
as, without so much as a sociable sneer at my bookbinder, he 
turned away from the serried rows of my little French library. 

" Of course I ve never seen the fellow, but it s clear enough he s 
a humbug." 

"Clear enough is just what it isn t," I replied: "if it only 
were !" That ejaculation on my part must have been the be 
ginning of what was to be later a long ache for final frivolous rest. 
Gravener was profound enough to remark after a moment that 
in the first place he couldn t be anything but a Dissenter, and 
when I answered that the very note of his fascination was his 
extraordinary speculative breadth he retorted that there was no 
cad like your cultivated cad and that I might depend upon dis 
covering (since I had had the levity not already to have inquired), 
that my shining light proceeded, a generation back, from a 
Methodist cheesemonger. I confess I was struck with his 
insistence, and I said, after reflection: "It maybe I admit it 
may be ; but why on earth are you so sure ? " asking the 
question mainly to lay him the trap of saying that it was because 
the poor man didn t dress for dinner. He took an instant to dodge 
my trap and come blandly out the other side. 

" Because 

296 The Coxon Fund 

"Because the Kent Mulvilles have invented him. They ve an 
infallible hand for frauds. All their geese are swans. They were 
born to be duped, they like it, they cry for it, they don t know 
anything from anything, and they disgust one (luckily perhaps !) 
with Christian charity." His intensity was doubtless an 
accident, but it might have been a strange foreknowledge. 
I forget what protest I dropped ; it was at any rate something 
which led him to go on after a moment : " I only ask one 
thing it s perfectly simple. Is a man, in a given case, a real 
gentleman ? " 

"A real gentleman, my dear fellow that s so soon said ! " 

" Not so soon when he isn t ! If they ve got hold of one this 
time he must be a great rascal ! " 

" I might feel injured," I answered, " if I didn t reflect that they 
don t rave about me." 

" Don t be too sure ! I ll grant that he s a gentleman," Gravener 
presently added, " if you ll admit that he s a scamp." 

"I don t know which to admire most, your logic or your bene 

My friend coloured at this, but he didn t change the subject. 
Where did they pick him up ? " 

" I think they were struck with something he had published." 

" I can fancy the dreary thing ! " 

" I believe they found out he had all sorts of worries and 

" That, of course, was not to be endured, and they jumped at 
the privilege of paying his debts ! " I replied that I knew nothing 
about his debts, and I reminded my visitor that though the dear 
Mulvilles were angels they were neither idiots nor millionaires. 
What they mainly aimed at was re-uniting Mr. Saltram to his 
wife. " I was expecting to hear that he has basely abandoned her," 


By Henry James 297 

Gravener went on, at this, " and I m too glad you don t disappoint 


I tried to recall exactly what Mrs. Mulville had told me. " He 
didn t leave her no. It s she who has left him." 

" Left him to us?" Gravener asked. " The monster many 
thanks ! I decline to take him." 

u You ll hear more about him in spite of yourself. I can t, no, 
I really can t, resist the impression that he s a big man." I was 
already learning to my shame perhaps be it said just the tone 
that my old friend least liked. 

"It s doubtless only a trifle," he returned, " but you haven t 
happened to mention what his reputation s to rest on." 

" Why, on what I began by boring you with his extraordinary 

" As exhibited in his writings ? " 

" Possibly in his writings, but certainly in his talk, which is far 
and away the richest I ever listened to." 

" And what is it all about ? " 

" My dear fellow, don t ask me ! About everything 1 " I 
pursued, reminding myself of poor Adelaide. " About his idea of 
things," I then more charitably added. " You must have heard 
him to know what I mean it s unlike anything that ever was 
heard." I coloured, I admit, I overcharged a little, for such a 
picture was an anticipation of Saltram s later development and 
still more of my fuller acquaintance with him. However, I really 
expressed, a little lyrically perhaps, my actual imagination of him 
when I proceeded to declare that, in a cloud of tradition, of legend, 
he might very well go down to posterity as the greatest of all 
great talkers. Before we parted George Gravener demanded why 
such a row should be made about a chatterbox the more and why 
he should be pampered and pensioned. The greater the windbag 


20$ The Coxon Fund 

the greater the calamity. Out of proportion to all other move 
ments on earth had come to be this wagging of the tongue. We 
were drenched with talk our wretched age was dying of it. I 
differed from him here sincerely, only going so far as to concede, 
and gladly, that we were drenched with sound. It was not, 
however, the mere speakers who were killing us it was the mere 
stammerers. Fine talk was as rare as it was refreshing the gift 
of the gods themselves, the one starry spangle on the ragged cloak 
of humanity. How many men were there who rose to this privi 
lege, of how many masters of conversation could he boast the 
acquaintance ? Dying of talk ? why, we were dying of the lack 
of it ! Bad writing wasn t talk, as many people seemed to think, 
and even good wasn t always to be compared to it. From the best 
talk, indeed, the best writing had something to learn. I fancifully 
added that we too should peradventure be gilded by the legend, 
should be pointed at for having listened, for having actually heard. 
Gravener, who had looked at his watch and discovered it was mid 
night, found to all this a response beautifully characteristic of him. 
"There is one little sovereign circumstance," he remarked, 
" which is common to the best talk and the worst." He looked at 
this moment as if he meant so much that I thought he could only 
mean once more that neither of them mattered if a man wasn t 
a real gentleman. Perhaps it was what he did mean ; he deprived 
me, however, of the exultation of being right by putting the truth 
in a slightly different way. " The only thing that really counts 
for one s estimate of a person is his conduct." He had his watch 
still in his hand, and I reproached him with unfair play in having 
ascertained beforehand that it was now the hour at which I always 
gave in. My pleasantry so far failed to mollify him as that he 
presently added that to the rule he had just enunciated there was 
absolutely no exception. 

" None 

By Henry James 299 

" None whatever ? " 

" None whatever." 

" Trust me then to try to be good at any price ! " I laughed as 
I went with him to the door. " I declare I will be, if I have to 
be horrible ! " 


If that first night was one of the liveliest, or at any rate was the 
freshest, of my exaltation, there was another, four years later, that 
was one of my great discomposures. Repetition, I well knew by 
this time, was the secret of Saltram s power to alienate, and of 
course one would never have seen him at his finest if one hadn t 
seen him in his remorses. They set in mainly at this season and 
were magnificent, orchestral. I was perfectly aware that one of 
these great sweeps was now gathering ; but none the less, in our 
arduous attempt to set him on his feet as a lecturer, it was im 
possible not to feel that two failures were a large order, as we said, 
for a short course of five. This was the second time, and it was 
past nine o clock ; the audience, a muster unprecedented and really 
encouraging, had fortunately the attitude of blandness that might 
have been looked for in persons whom the promise (if I am not 
mistaken) of an Analysis of Primary Ideas had drawn to the 
neighbourhood of Upper Baker Street. There was in those days 
in that region a petty lecture-hall to be secured on terms as 
moderate as the funds left at our disposal by the irrepressible 
question of the maintenance of five small Saltrams (I include the 
mother) and one large one. By the time the Saltrams, of differ 
ent sizes, were all maintained, we had pretty well poured out the 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. R oil 

300 The Coxon Fund 

oil that might have lubricated the machinery for enabling the 
most original of men to appear to maintain them. 

It was I, the other time, who had been forced into the breach, 
standing up there, for an odious lamplit moment to explain to 
half-a-dozen thin benches, where the earnest brows were virtu 
ously void of guesses, that we couldn t put so much as a finger 
on Mr. Saltram. There was nothing to plead but that our 
scouts had been out from the early hours and that we were afraid 
that on one of his walks abroad he took one, for meditation, 
whenever he was to address such a company some accident had 
disabled or delayed him. The meditative walks were a fiction, 
for he never, that any one could discover, prepared anything but a 
magnificent prospectus ; so that his circulars and programmes, of 
which I possess an almost complete collection, are as the solemn 
ghosts of generations never born. I put the case, as it seemed to 
me, at the best ; but I admit I had been angry, and Kent Mul- 
ville was shocked at my want of attenuation. This time there 
fore I left the excuses to his more practised patience, only 
relieving myself in response to a direct appeal from a young lady 
next whom, in the hall, I found myself sitting. My position was 
an accident, but if it had been calculated the reason would 
scarcely have eluded an observer of the fact that no one else in 
the room had an appearance so charming. I think indeed she 
was the only person there who looked at her ease, who had come 
a little in the spirit of adventure. She seemed to carry amuse 
ment in her handsome young head, and her presence quite gave 
me the sense of a sudden extension of Saltram s sphere of in 
fluence. He was doing better than we hoped and he had chosen 
this occasion, of all occasions, to succumb to heaven knew which 
of his infirmities. The young lady produced an impression of 
auburn hair and black velvet, and had on her other hand a com 

By Henry James 301 

panion of obscurer type, presumably a waiting-maid. She herself 
might perhaps have been a foreign countess, and before she spoke 
to me I had beguiled our sorry interval by thinking that she 
brought vaguely back the first page of some novel of Madame 
Sand. It didn t make her more fathomable to perceive in a few 
minutes that she could only be an American ; it simply en 
gendered depressing reflections as to the possible check to contri 
butions from Boston. She asked me if, as a person apparently 
more initiated, I would recommend further waiting, and I replied 
that if she considered I was on my honour I would privately 
deprecate it. Perhaps she didn t ; at any rate something passed 
between us that led us to talk until she became aware that we 
were almost the only people left. I presently discovered that she 
knew Mrs. Saltram, and this explained in a manner the miracle. 
The brotherhood of the friends of the husband were as nothing to 
the brotherhood, or perhaps I should say the sisterhood, of the 
friends of the wife. Like the Kent Mulvilles I belonged to both 
fraternities, and even better than they I think I had sounded the 
dark abyss of Mrs. Saltram s wrongs. She bored me to extinc 
tion, and I knew but too well how she had bored her husband ^ 
but she had her partisans, the most inveterate of whom were 
indeed the handful of poor Saltram s backers. They did her 
liberal justice, whereas her peculiar comforters had nothing but 
hatred for our philosopher. I am bound to say it was we, how 
ever we of both camps, as it were who had always done most 
for her. 

I thought my young lady looked rich I scarcely knew why ; 
and I hoped she had put her hand in her pocket. But I soon dis 
covered that she was not a partisan she was only a generous, 
irresponsible inquirer. She had come to England to see her aunt, 
and it was at her aunt s she had met the dreary lady we had all so 


302 The Coxon Fund 

much on our minds. I saw she would help to pass the time 
when she observed that it was a pity this lady wasn t intrinsically 
more interesting. That was refreshing, for it was an article of 
faith in Mrs. Saltram s circle at least among those who scorned 
to know her horrid husband that she was attractive on her 
merits. She was really a very common person, as Saltram himself 
would have been if he hadn t been a prodigy. The question of 
vulgarity had no application to him, but it was a measure that his 
wife kept challenging you to apply to her. I hasten to add that 
the consequences of your doing so were no sufficient reason for 
his having left her to starve. " He doesn t seem to have much 
force of character," said my young lady ; at which I laughed out 
so loud that my departing friends looked back at me over their 
shoulders as if I were making a joke of their discomfiture. My 
joke probably cost Saltram a subscription or two, but it helped me 
on with my interlocutress. " She says he drinks like a fish," she 
sociably continued, "and yet she admits that his mind is wonder 
fully clear." It was amusing to converse with a pretty girl who 
could talk of the clearness of Saltram s mind. I tried to tell her 
I had it almost on my conscience what was the proper way to 
regard him ; an effort attended perhaps more than ever on this 
occasion with the usual effect of my feeling that I wasn t after all 
very sure of it. She had come to-night out of high curiosity 
she had wanted to find out this proper way for herself. She had 
read some of his papers and hadn t understood them ; but it was 
at home, at her aunt s, that her curiosity had been kindled 
kindled mainly by his wife s remarkable stories of his want of 
virtue. " I suppose they ought to have kept me away," my com 
panion dropped, " and I suppose they would have done so if I 
hadn t somehow got an idea that he s fascinating. In fact Mrs. 
Saltram herself says he is." 


By Henry James 303 

" So you came to see where the fascination resides ? Well, 
you ve seen ! " 

My young lady raised her fine eyebrows. " Do you mean in 
his bad faith ? " 

" In the extraordinary effects of it ; his possession, that is, of 
some quality or other that condemns us in advance to forgive him 
the humiliation, as I may call it, to which he has subjected us." 

" The humiliation ? " 

" Why mine, for instance, as one of his guarantors, before you 
as the purchaser of a ticket." 

"You don t look humiliated a bit, and if you did I should let 
you off, disappointed as I am ; for the mysterious quality you 
speak of is just the quality I came to see." 

" Oh, you can t see it ! " I exclaimed. 

" How then do you get at it ? " 

" You don t ! You musn t suppose he s good-looking," I 

" Why, his wife says he is ! " 

My hilarity may have struck my interlocutress as excessive, but 
I confess it broke out afresh. Had she acted only in obedience to 
this singular plea, so characteristic, on Mrs. Saltram s part, of what 
was irritating in the narrowness of that lady s point of view ? 
"Mrs. Saltram," I explained, "undervalues him where he is 
strongest, so that, to make up for it perhaps, she overpraises him 
where he s weak. He s not, assuredly, superficially attractive ; he s 
middle-aged, fat, featureless save for his great eyes." 

" Yes, his great eyes," said my young lady attentively. She had 
evidently heard all about them. 

" They re tragic and splendid lights on a dangerous coast. 
But he moves badly and dresses worse, and altogether he s strange 
to behold." 


304 The Coxon Fund 

My companion appeared to reflect on this, and after a moment 
she inquired : " Do you call him a real gentleman ?" 

I started slightly at the question, for I had a sense of recognising 
it : George Gravener, years before that first flushed night, had 
put me face to face with it. It had embarrassed me then, but it 
didn t embarrass me now, for I had lived with it and overcome it 
and disposed of it. " A real gentleman ? Decidedly not ! " 

My promptitude surprised her a little, but I quickly felt that it 
was not to Gravener I was now talking. " Do you say that 
because he s what do you call it in England ? of humble 
extraction ? " 

" Not a bit. His father was a country schoolmaster and his 
mother the widow of a sexton, but that has nothing to do with it. 
I say it simply because I know him well." 

" But isn t it an awful drawback ? " 

" Awful quite awful." 

" I mean, isn t it positively fatal ? ; 

"Fatal to what ? Not to his magnificent vitality." 

Again there was a meditative moment, "And is his magnificent 
vitality the cause of his vices ? " 

" Your questions are formidable, but I m glad you put them. I 
was thinking of his noble intellect. His vices, as you say, have 
been much exaggerated : they consist mainly after all in one com 
prehensive misfortune." 

" A want of will ? " 

" A want of dignity." 

" He doesn t recognise his obligations ? " 

" On the contrary, he recognises them with effusion, especially 
in public : he smiles and bows and beckons across the street to 
them. But when they pass over he turns away, and he speedily 
loses them in the crowd. The recognition is purely spiritual it 

isn t 

By Henry James 305 

isn t in the least social. So he leaves all his belongings to other 
people to take care of. He accepts favours, loans, sacrifices, with 
nothing more restrictive than an agony of shame. Fortunately 
/we re a little faithful band, and we do what we can." I held my 
tongue about the natural children, engendered, to the number of 
three, in the wantonness of his youth. I only remarked that he 
did make efforts often tremendous ones. " But the efforts," I 
said, " never come to much ; the only things that come to much 
are the abandonments, the surrenders." 

" And how much do they come to ? " 

"I ve told you before that your questions are terrible ! They 
come, these mere exercises of genius, to a great body of poetry, of 
philosophy, a notable mass of speculation, of discovery. The 
genius is there, you see, to meet the surrender ; but there s no 
genius to support the defence." 

" But what is there, after all, at his age, to show ? " 

" In the way of achievement recognised and reputation estab 
lished ? " I interrupted. " To * show if you will, there isn t 
much, for his writing, mostly, isn t as fine as his talk. Moreover, 
two-thirds of his work are merely colossal projects and announce 
ments. Showing Frank Saltram is often a poor business ; we 
endeavoured, you will have observed, to show him to-night ! 
However, if he had lectured, he would have lectured divinely. It 
would just have been his talk." 

" And what would his talk just have been ? " 

I was conscious of some ineffectiveness as well perhaps as of a 
little impatience as I replied : " The exhibition of a splendid 
intellect." My young lady looked not quite satisfied at this, but 
as I was not prepared for another question I hastily pursued : 
" The sight of a great suspended, swinging crystal, huge, lucid, 
lustrous, a block of light, flashing back every impression of life and 


306 The Coxon Fund 

every possibility of thought ! This gave her something to think 
about till we had passed out to the dusky porch of the hall, in 
front of which the lamps of a quiet brougham were almost the 
only thing Saltram s treachery hadn t extinguished. I went with 
her to the door of her carriage, out of which she leaned a moment 
after she had thanked me and taken her seat. Her smile even in 
the darkness was pretty. " I do want to see that crystal ! " 
" You ve only to come to the next lecture." 
"I go abroad in a day or two with my aunt." 
" Wait over till next week," I suggested. " It s worth it." 
She became grave. " Not unless he really comes ! " At 
which the brougham started oft", carrying her away too fast, 
fortunately for my manners, to allow me to exclaim " Ingra 
titude !" 


Mrs. Saltram made a great affair of her right to be informed 
where her husband had been the second evening he failed to meet 
his audience. She came to me to ascertain, but I couldn t satisfy 
her, for in spite of my ingenuity I remained in ignorance. It 
was not till much later that I found this had not been the case 
with Kent Mulville, whose hope for the best never twirled its 
thumbs more placidly than when he happened to know the worst. 
He had known it on the occasion I speak of that is immediately 
after. He was impenetrable then, but he ultimately confessed 
more than I shall venture to confess to-day. It was of course 
familiar to me that Saltram was incapable of keeping the engage 
ments which, after their separation, he had entered into with 
regard to his wife, a deeply wronged, justly resentful, quite irre 

By Henry James 307 

proachable and insufferable person. She often appeared at my 
chambers to talk over his lacunce, for if, as she declared, she had 
washed her hands of him, she had carefully preserved the water of 
this ablution and she handed it about for inspection. She had 
arts of her own of exciting one s impatience, the most infallible of 
which was perhaps her assumption that we were kind to her 
because we liked her. In reality her personal fall had been a sort 
of social rise, for there had been a moment when, in our little 
conscientious circle, her desolation almost made her the fashion. 
Her voice was grating and her children ugly ; moreover she hated 
the good Mulvilles, whom I more and more loved. They were 
the people who by doing most for her husband had in the long 
run done most for herself; and the warm confidence with which 
he had laid his length upon them was a pressure gentle compared 
with her stiffer pcrsuadability. I am bound to say he didn t 
criticise his benefactors, though practically he got tired of them ; 
she, however, had the highest standards about eleemosynary forms. 
She offered the odd spectacle of a spirit puffed up by dependence, 
and indeed it had introduced her to some excellent society. She 
pitied me for not knowing certain people who aided her and 
whom she doubtless patronised in turn for their luck in not 
knowing me. I daresay I should have got on with her better if 
she had had a ray of imagination if it had occasionally seemed to 
occur to her to regard Saltram s manifestations in any other 
manner than as separate subjects of woe. They were all flowers 
of his nature, pearls strung on an endless thread ; but she had a 
stubborn little way of challenging them one after the other, as if 
she never suspected that he bad a nature, such as it was, or 
that deficiencies might be organic ; the irritating effect of a mind 
incapable of a generalisation. One might doubtless have overdone 
the idea that there was a general exemption for such a man ; but 


308 The Coxon Fund 

if this had happened it would have been through one s feeling that 
there could be none for such a woman. 

I recognised her superiority when I asked her about the aunt of 
the disappointed young lady : it sounded like a sentence from a 
phrase-book. She triumphed in what she told me and she may 
have triumphed still more in what she withheld. My friend of 
the other evening, Miss Anvoy, had but lately come to England ; 
Lady Coxon, the aunt, had been established here for years in 
consequence of her marriage with the late Sir Gregory of that ilk. 
She had a house in the Regent s Park and a Bath-chair and a 
page ; and above all she had sympathy. Mrs. Saltram had made 
her acquaintance through mutual friends. This vagueness caused 
me to feel how much I was out of it and how large an inde 
pendent circle Mrs. Saltram had at her command. I should have 
been glad to know more about the charming Miss Anvoy, but I 
felt that I should know most by not depriving her of her advantage, 
as she might have mysterious means of depriving me of my 
knowledge. For the present, moreover, this experience was 
arrested, Lady Coxon having in fact gone abroad, accompanied by 
her niece. The niece, besides being immensely clever, was an 
heiress, Mrs. Saltram said ; the only daughter and the light of 
the eyes of some great American merchant, a man, over there, of 
endless indulgences and dollars. She had pretty clothes and pretty 
manners, and she had, what was prettier still, the great thing of 
all. The great thing of all for Mrs. Saltram was always sym 
pathy, and she spoke as if during the absence of these ladies she 
might not know where to turn for it. A few months later 
indeed, when they had come back, her tone perceptibly changed : 
she alluded to them, on my leading her up to it, rather as to 
persons in her debt for favours received. What had happened I 
didn t know, but I saw it would take only a little more or a little 


By Henry James 309 

less to make her speak of them as thankless subjects of social 
countenance people for whom she had vainly tried to do some 
thing. I confess I saw that it would not be in a mere week or 
two that I should rid myself of the image of Ruth Anvoy, in whose 
very name, when I learnt it, I found something secretly to like. 
I should probably neither see her nor hear of her again : the knight s 
widow (he had been mayor of Clockborough) would pass away, 
and the heiress would return to her inheritance. I gathered with 
surprise that she had not communicated to his wife the story of 
her attempt to hear Mr. Saltram, and I founded this reticence on 
the easy supposition that Mrs. Saltram had fatigued by over 
pressure the spring of the sympathy of which she boasted. 
The girl at any rate would forget the small adventure, be 
distracted, take a husband ; besides which she would lack oppor 
tunity to repeat her experiment. 

We clung to the idea of the brilliant course, delivered without 
a tumble, that, as a lecturer, would still make the paying public 
aware of our great mind ; but the fact remained that in the case 
of an inspiration so unequal there was treachery, there was fallacy 
at least, in the very conception of a series. In our scrutiny of 
ways and means we were inevitably subject to the old convention 
of the synopsis, the syllabus, partly of course not to lose the 
advantage of his grand free hand in drawing up such things ; but 
for myself I laughed at our categories even while I stickled for 
them. It was indeed amusing work to be scrupulous for Frank 
Saltram, who also at moments laughed about it, so far as the rise 
and fall of a luxurious sigh might pass for such a sound. He ad 
mitted with a candour all his own that he was in truth only to be 
depended on in the Mulvilles drawing-room. " Yes," he suggest 
ively conceded, " it s there, I think, that I am at my best ; quite 
late, when it gets toward eleven and if I ve not been too much 


310 The Coxon Fund 

worried." We all knew what too much worry meant ; it meant 
too enslaved for the hour to the superstition of sobriety. On the 
Saturdays I used to bring my portmanteau, so as not to have 
to think of eleven o clock trains. I had a bold theory that 
as regards this temple of talk and its altars of cushioned chintz, its 
pictures and its flowers, its large fireside and clear lamplight, we 
might really arrive at something if the Mulvilles would only 
charge for admission. But here it was that the Mulvilles shame 
lessly broke down ; as there is a flaw in every perfection, this was 
the inexpugnable refuge of their egotism. They declined to 
make their saloon a market, so that Saltram s golden words con 
tinued to be the only coin that rang there. It can have happened 
to no man, however, to be paid a greater price than such an 
enchanted hush as surrounded him on his greatest nights. The 
most profane, on these occasions, felt a presence ; all minor elo 
quence grew dumb. Adelaide Mulville, for the pride of her 
hospitality, anxiously watched the door or stealthily poked the 
fire. I used to call it the music-room, for we had anticipated 
Bayreuth. The very gates of the kingdom of light seemed to 
open and the horizon of thought to flash with the beauty of a 
sunrise at sea. 

In the consideration of ways and means, the sittings of our little 
board, we were always conscious of the creak of Mrs. Saltram s 
shoes. She hovered, she interrupted, she almost presided, the state 
of affairs being mostly such as to supply her with every incentive 
for inquiring what was to be done next. It was the pressing 
pursuit of this knowledge that, in concatenations of omnibuses and 
usually in very wet weather, led her so often to my door. She 
thought us spiritless creatures with editors and publishers ; but she 
carried matters to no great effect when she personally pushed into 
back-shops. She wanted all moneys to be paid to herself; they 


By Henry James 31 1 

were otherwise liable to such strange adventures. They trickled 
away into the desert, and they were mainly at best, alas, but a 
slender stream. The editors and the publishers were the last people 
to take this remarkable thinker at the valuation that has now pretty 
well come to be established. The former were half distraught 
between the desire to "cut" him and the difficulty of finding a 
crevice for their shears ; and when a volume on this or that por 
tentous subject was proposed to the latter they suggested alternative 
titles which, as reported to our friend, brought into his face the 
noble blank melancholy that sometimes made it handsome. The 
title of an unwritten book didn t after all much matter, but some 
masterpiece of Saltram s may have died in his bosom of the shudder 
with which it was then convulsed. The ideal solution, failing the 
fee at Kent Mulville s door, would have been some system of 
subscription to projected treatises with their non-appearance 
provided for provided for, I mean, by the indulgence of sub 
scribers. The author s real misfortune was that subscribers were 
so wretchedly literal. When they tastelessly inquired why 
publication had not ensued I was tempted to ask who in the world 
had ever been so published. Nature herself had brought him out 
in voluminous form, and the money was simply a deposit on 
borrowing the work. 


I was doubtless often a nuisance to my friends in those years ; 
but there were sacrifices I declined to make, and I never passed 
the hat to George Gravener. I never forgot our little discussion 
in Ebury Street, and I think it stuck in my throat to have to 
make to him the admission I had made so easily to Miss Anvoy. 


312 The Coxon Fund 

It had cost me nothing to confide to this charming girl, but it 
would have cost me much to confide to the friend of my youth, 
that the character of the " real gentleman " was not an attribute of 
the man I took such pains for. Was this because I had already 
generalised to the point of perceiving that women are really the 
unfastidious sex ? I knew at any rate that Gravener, already 
quite in view but still hungry and frugal, had naturally enough 
more ambition than charity. He had sharp aims for stray 
sovereigns, being in view most from the tall steeple of Clock- 
borough. His immediate ambition was to wholly occupy the field 
of vision of that smokily-seeing city, and all his movements and 
postures were calculated at this angle. The movement of the 
hand to the pocket had thus to alternate gracefully with the posture 
of the hand on the heart. He talked to Clockborough in short 
only less beguilingly than Frank Saltram talked to his electors ; 
with the difference in our favour, however, that we had already 
voted and that our candidate had no antagonist but himself. He 
had more than once been at Wimbledon it was Mrs. Mulville s 
work, not mine and, by the time the claret was served, had seen 
the god descend. He took more pains to swing his censer than I 
had expected, but on our way back to town he forestalled any little 
triumph I might have been so artless as to express by the obser 
vation that such a man was a hundred times ! a man to use 
and never a man to be used by. I remember that this neat remark 
humiliated me almost as much as if virtually, in the fever of broken 
slumbers, I hadn t often made it myself. The difference was that 
on Gravener s part a force attached to it that could never attach 
to it on mine. He was able to use him in short, he had the 
machinery ; and the irony of Saltram s being made showy at 
Clockborough came out to me when he said, as if he had no 
memory of our original talk and the idea were quite fresh to him : 

I hate 

By Henry James 313 

" I hate his type, you know, but I ll be hanged if I don t put some 
of those things in. I can find a place for them : we might even 
find a place for the fellow himself." I myself should have had some 
fear, not, I need scarcely say, for the " things " themselves, but for 
some other things very near them in fine for the rest of my 

Later on I could see that the oracle of Wimbledon was not in 
this case so serviceable as he would have been had the politics of 
the gods only coincided more exactly with those of the party. 
There was a distinct moment when, without saying anything more 
definite to me, Gravener entertained the idea of "getting hold" 
of Mr. Saltram. Such a project was factitious, for the discovery 
of analogies between his body of doctrine and that pressed from 
headquarters upon Clockborough the bottling, in a word, of the 
air of those lungs for convenient public uncorking in corn- 
exchanges was an experiment for which no one had the leisure. 
The only thing would have been to carry him massively about, 
paid, caged, clipped : to turn him on for a particular occasion in a 
particular channel. Frank Saltram s channel, however, was 
essentially not calculable, and there was no knowing what disas 
trous floods might have issued. For what there would have been 
to do " The Empire," the great newspaper, was there to look to ; 
but it was no new misfortune that there were delicate situations in 
which " The Empire " broke down. In fine there was an 
instinctive apprehension that a clever young journalist commis 
sioned to report upon Mr. Saltram might never come back from 
the errand. No one knew better than George Gravener that that 
was a time when prompt returns counted double. If he therefore 
found our friend an exasperating waste of orthodoxy, it was because 
he was, as he said, up in the clouds ; not because he was down in 
the dust. He would have been a real enough gentleman if he 


314 The Coxon Fund 

could have helped to put in a real gentleman. Gravener s great 
objection to the actual member was that he was not one. 

Lady Coxon had a fine old house, a house with " grounds," at 
Clockborough, which she had let ; but after she returned from 
abroad I learned from Mrs. Saltram that the lease had fallen in and 
that she had gone down to resume possession. I could see the 
faded red livery, the big square shoulders, the high-walled garden 
of this decent abode. As the rumble of dissolution grew louder 
the suitor would have pressed his suit, and I found myself hoping 
that the politics of the late Mayor s widow would not be such as 
to enjoin upon her to ask him to dinner ; perhaps indeed I went 
so far as to hope that they would be such as to put all countenance 
out of the question. I tried to focus the page, in the daily airing, 
as he perhaps even pushed the Bath-chair over somebody s toes. 
I was destined to hear, however, through Mrs. Saltram (who, I 
afterwards learned, was in correspondence with Lady Coxon s 
housekeeper), that Gravener was known to have spoken of the 
habitation I had in my eye as the pleasantest thing at Clock- 
borough. On his part, I was sure, this was the voice not of envy 
but of experience. The vivid scene was now peopled, and I 
could see him in the old-time garden with Miss Anvoy, who 
would be certain, and very justly, to think him good-looking. It 
would be too much to say that I was troubled by such an image ; 
but I seem to remember the relief, singular enough, of feeling it 
suddenly brushed away by an annoyance really much greater j an 
annoyance the result of its happening to come over me about that 
time with a rush that I was simply ashamed of Frank Saltram. 
There were limits after all, and my mark at last had been reached. 
I had had my disgusts, if I may allow myself to-day such an 
expression ; but this was a supreme revolt. Certain things cleared 
up in my mind, certain values stood out. It was all very well to 


By Henry James 315 

talk of an unfortunate temperament ; there were misfortunes that 
people should themselves correct, and correct in private, without 
calling in assistance. I avoided George Gravener at this moment, 
and reflected that at such a time I should do so most effectually 
by leaving England. I wanted to forget Frank Saltram that was 
all. I didn t want to do anything in the world to him but that. 
Indignation had withered on the stalk, and I felt that one could 
pity him as much as one ought only by never thinking of him 
again. It wasn t for anything he had done to me ; it was for 
something he had done to the Mulvilles. Adelaide cried about it 
for a week, and her husband, profiting by the example so signally 
given him of the fatal effect of a want of character, left the letter 
unanswered. The letter, an incredible one, addressed by Saltram 
to Wimbledon during a stay with the Pudneys at Ramsgate, was 
the central feature of the incident, which, however, had many 
features, each more painful than whichever other we compared 
it with. The Pudneys had behaved shockingly, but that was 
no excuse. Base ingratitude, gross indecency one had one s 
choice only of such formulas as that the more they fitted the 
less they gave one rest. These are dead aches now, and I am 
under no obligation, thank heaven, to be definite about the busi 
ness. There are things which if I had had to tell them well, I 
wouldn t have told my story. 

I went abroad for the general election, and if I don t know how 
much, on the Continent, I forgot, I at least know how much I 
missed, him. At a distance, in a foreign land, ignoring, abjuring, 
unlearning him, I discovered what he had done for me. I owed 
him, oh unmistakably, certain noble conceptions ; I had lighted 
my little taper at his smoky lamp, and lo, it continued to twinkle. 
But the light it gave me just showed me how much more I 
wanted. I was pursued of course by letters from Mrs. Saltram, 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. s which 

316 The Coxon Fund 

which I didn t scruple not to read, though I was duly conscious 
that her embarrassments would now be of the gravest. I sacrificed 
to propriety by simply putting them away, and this is how, one 
day as my absence drew to an end, my eye, as I rummaged in my 
desk for another paper, was caught by a name on a leaf that had 
detached itself from the packet. The allusion was to Miss Anvoy, 
who, it appeared, was engaged to be married to Mr. George 
Gravener ; and the news was two months old. A direct question 
of Mrs. Saltram s had thus remained unanswered she had in 
quired of me in a postscript what sort of man this Mr. Gravener 
might be. This Mr. Gravener had been triumphantly returned 
for Clockborough, in the interest of the party that had swept the 
country, so that I might easily have referred Mrs. Saltram to the 
journals of the day. But when I at last wrote to her that I was 
coming home and would discharge my accumulated burden by 
seeing her, I remarked in regard to her question that she must 
really put it to Miss Anvoy. 


I had almost avoided the general election, but some of its con 
sequences, on my return, had squarely to be faced. The season, 
in London, began to breathe again and to flap its folded wings. 
Confidence, under the new ministry, was understood to be reviving, 
and one of the symptoms, in the social body, was a recovery of 
appetite. People once more fed together, and it happened that, 
one Saturday night, at somebody s house, I fed with George 
Gravener. When the ladies left the room I moved up to where 
he sat and offered him my congratulation. " On my election ? " 
he asked after a moment ; whereupon I feigned, jocosely not to 


By Henry James 317 

have heard of his election and to be alluding to something much 
more important, the rumour of his engagement. I daresay I 
coloured however, for his political victory had momentarily passed 
out of my mind. What was present to it was that he was to 
marry that beautiful girl ; and yet his question made me conscious 
of some embarrassment I had not intended to put that before 
everything. He himself indeed ought gracefully to have done so, 
and I remember thinking the whole man was in this assumption, 
that in expressing my sense of what he had won I had fixed my 
thoughts on his " seat." We straightened the matter out, and he 
was so much lighter in hand than I had lately seen him that his 
spirits might well have been fed from a double source. He was so 
good as to say that he hoped I should soon make the acquaintance 
of Miss Anvoy, who, with her aunt, was presently coming up to 
town. Lady Coxon, in the country, had been seriously unwell, 
and this had delayed their arrival. I told him I had heard the 
marriage would be a splendid one ; on which, brightened and 
humanised by his luck, he laughed and said : " Do you mean for 
her ? When I had again explained what I meant he went on : 
" Oh, she s an American, but you d scarcely know it ; unless, 
perhaps," he added, " by her being used to more money than 
most girls in England, even the daughters of rich men. That 
wouldn t in the least do for a fellow like me, you know, if it wasn t 
for the great liberality of her father. He really has been most 
kind, and everything is quite satisfactory." He added that his 
eldest brother had taken a tremendous fancy to her and that 
during a recent visit at Coldfield she had nearly won over Lady 
Maddock. I gathered from something he dropped later that the 
free-handed gentleman beyond the seas had not made a settlement, 
but had given a handsome present and was apparently to be looked 
to, across the water, for other favours. People are simplified alike 


318 The Coxon Fund 

by great contentments and great yearnings, and whether or no it 
was Gravener s directness that begot my own, I seem to recall 
that in some turn taken by our talk he almost imposed it upon me 
as an act of decorum to ask if Miss Anvoy had also by chance 
expectations from her aunt. My inquiry elicited that Lady 
Coxon, who was the oddest of women, would have in any con 
tingency to act under her late husband s will, which was odder 
still, saddling her with a mass of queer obligations intermingled 
with queer loopholes. There were several dreary people, Coxon 
relations, old maids, whom she would have more or less to con 
sider. Gravener laughed, without saying no, when I suggested 
that the young lady might come in through a loophole ; then 
suddenly, as if he suspected that I had turned a lantern on him, he 
exclaimed quite dryly : " That s all rot one is moved by other 
springs ! " 

A fortnight later, at Lady Coxon s own house, I understood 
well enough the springs one was moved by. Gravener had 
spoken of me there as an old friend, and I received a gracious 
invitation to dine. The knight s widow was again indisposed 
she had succumbed at the eleventh hour ; so that I found Miss 
Anvoy bravely playing hostess, without even Gravener s help, 
inasmuch as, to make matters worse, he had just sent up word 
that the House, the insatiable House, with which he supposed he 
had contracted for easier terms, positively declined to release him. 
I was struck with the courage, the grace and gaiety of the young 
lady left to deal unaided with the possibilities of the Regent s 
Park. I did what I could to help her to keep them down, or up, 
after I had recovered from the confusion of seeing her slightly dis 
concerted at perceiving in the guest introduced by her intended 
the gentleman with whom she had had that talk about Frank 
Saltram. I had at that moment my first glimpse of the fact that 


By Henry James 319 

she was a person who could carry a responsibility ; but Heave the 
reader to judge of my sense of the aggravation, for either of us, of 
such a burden when I heard the servant announce Mrs. Saltram. 
From what immediately passed between the two ladies I gathered 
that the latter had been sent for post-haste to fill the gap created 
by the absence of the mistress of the house. " Good ! " I 
exclaimed, " she will be put by me! " and my apprehension was 
promptly justified. Mrs. Saltram taken into dinner, and taken in 
as a consequence of an appeal to her amiability, was Mrs. 
Saltram with a vengeance. I asked myself what Miss Anvoy 
meant by doing such things, but the only answer I arrived at was 
that Gravener was verily fortunate. She had not happened to tell 
him of her visit to Upper Baker Street, but she would certainly 
tell him to-morrow ; not indeed that this would make him like any 
better her having had the simplicity to invite such a person as 
Mrs. Saltram on such an occasion. I reflected that I had never 
seen a young woman put such ignorance into her cleverness, such 
freedom into her modesty : this, I think, was when, after dinner, 
she said to me frankly, with almost jubilant mirth : "Oh, you 
don t admire Mrs. Saltram ! " Why should I ? She was truly an 
innocent maiden. I had briefly to consider before I could reply 
that my objection to the lady in question was the objection often 
formulated in regard to persons met at the social board I knew 
all her stories. Then, as Miss Anvoy remained momentarily 
vague, I added : "About her husband." 
" Oh yes, but there are some new ones." 
"None for me. Oh, novelty would be pleasant !" 
" Doesn t it appear that of late he has been particularly 
horrid ? " 

"His fluctuations don t matter," I replied; "they are all 
covered by the single circumstance I mentioned the evening we 


320 The Coxon Fund 

waited for him together. What will you have ? He has no 

Miss Anvoy, who had been introducing with her American 
distinctness, looked encouragingly round at some of the combina 
tions she had risked. " It s too bad I can t see him." 
" You mean Gravener won t let you ? " 
"I haven t asked him. He lets me do everything." 
" But you know he knows him and wonders what some of us 
see in him." 

" We haven t happened to talk of him," the girl said. 
" Get him to take you some day out to see the Mulvilles." 
" I thought Mr. Saltram had thrown the Mulvilles over." 
"Utterly. But that won t prevent his being planted there 
again, to bloom like a rose, within a month or two." 

Miss Anvoy thought a moment. Then, " I should like to see 
them," she said with her fostering smile. 

" They re tremendously worth it. You mustn t miss them." 
"I ll make George take me," she went on as Mrs. Saltram 
came up to interrupt us. The girl smiled at her as kindly as she 
had smiled at me, and addressing the question to her, continued : 
" But the chance of a lecture one of the wonderful lectures ? 
Isn t there another course announced ! " 

"Another? There are about thirty!" I exclaimed, turning 
away and feeling Mrs. Saltram s little eyes in my back. A few 
days after this, I heard that Gravener s marriage was near at 
hand was settled for Whitsuntide ; but as I had received 
no invitation I doubted it, and presently there came to me in 
fact the report of a postponement. Something was the matter ; 
what was the matter was supposed to be that Lady Coxon 
was now critically ill. I had called on her after my dinner in 
the Regent s Park, but I had neither seen her nor seen Miss 


By Henry James 321 

Anvoy. I forget to-day the exact order in which, at this period, 
certain incidents occurred and the particular stage at which it 
suddenly struck me, making me catch my breath a little, that the 
progression, the acceleration was for all the world that of a drama. 
This was probably rather late in the day, and the exact order 
doesn t matter. What had already occurred was some accident 
determining a more patient wait. George Gravener, whom I 
met again, in fact told me as much, but without signs of pertur 
bation. Lady Coxon had to be constantly attended to, and 
there were other good reasons as well. Lady Coxon had to be 
so constantly attended to that on the occasion of a second attempt 
in the Regent s Park I equally failed to obtain a sight of her 
niece. I judged it discreet under the circumstances not to 
make a third ; but this didn t matter, for it was through Adelaide 
Mulville that the side-wind of the comedy, though I was at 
first unwitting, began to reach me. I went to Wimbledon 
at times because Saltram was there and I went at others 
because he was not. The Pudneys, who had taken him to 
Birmingham, had already got rid of him, and we had a horrible 
consciousness of his wandering roofless, in dishonour, about the 
smoky Midlands, almost as the injured Lear wandered on the 
storm-lashed heath. His room, upstairs, had been lately done up 
(I could hear the crackle of the new chintz), and the difference 
only made his smirches and bruises, his splendid tainted genius, the 
more tragic. If he wasn t barefoot in the mire, he was sure to be 
unconventionally shod. These were the things Adelaide and I, who 
were old enough friends to stare at each other in silence, talked 
about when we didn t speak. When we spoke it was only about 
the charming girl George Gravener was to marry, whom he had 
brought out the other Sunday. I could see that this introduction 
had been happy, for Mrs. Mulville commemorated it in the only 


322 The Coxon Fund 

way in which she ever expressed her confidence in a new relation. 
"She likes me she likes me": her native humility exulted in 
that measure of success. We all knew for ourselves how she 
liked those who liked her, and as regards Ruth Anvoy she was 
more easily won over than Lady Maddock. 


One of the consequences, for the Mulville?, of the sacrifices 
they made for Frank Saltram was that they had to give up their 
carriage. Adelaide drove gently into London in a one-horse 
greenish thing, an early Victorian landau, hired, near at hand, 
imaginatively, from a broken-down jobmaster whose wife was in 
consumption a vehicle that made people turn round all the more 
when her pensioner sat beside her in a soft white hat and a shawl, 
one of her own. This was his position and I daresay his costume 
when on an afternoon in July she went to return Miss Anvoy s 
visit. The wheel of fate had now revolved, and amid silences 
deep and exhaustive, compunctions and condonations alike unutter 
able, Saltram was reinstated. Was it in pride or in penance that 
Mrs. Mulville began immediately to drive him about ? If he was 
ashamed of his ingratitude she might have been ashamed of her 
forgiveness ; but she was incorrigibly capable of liking him to be 
seen strikingly seated in the landau while she was in shops or 
with her acquaintance. However, if he was in the pillory for 
twenty minutes in the Regent s Park (I mean at Lady Coxon s 
door, while her companion paid her call), it was not for the further 
humiliation of any one concerned that she presently came out for 
him in person, not even to show either of them what a fool she was 


By Henry James 323 

that she drew him in to be introduced to the clever young Ameri 
can. Her account of this introduction I had in its order, but 
before that, very late in the season, under Gravener s auspices, I 
met Miss Anvoy at tea at the House of Commons. The member 
for Clockborough had gathered a group of pretty ladies, and the 
Mulvilles were not of the party. On the great terrace, as I 
strolled off a little with her, the guest of honour immediately 
exclaimed to me : " I ve seen him, you know I ve seen him ! " 
She told me about Saltram s call. 
"And how did you find him ? " 
"Ob, so strange !" 
"You didn t like him?" 
"I can t tell till I see him again." 
" You want to do that ? " 
She was silent a moment. "Immensely." 
We stopped ; I fancied she had become aware Gravener was 
looking at us. She turned back toward the knot of the others, 
and I said: "Dislike him as much as you will I see you re 

" Bitten ? " I thought she coloured a little. 
" Oh, it doesn t matter ! " I laughed ; " one doesn t die of it." 
" I hope I sha n t die of anything before I ve seen more of 
Mrs. Mulville." I rejoiced with her over plain Adelaide, whom 
she pronounced the loveliest woman she had met in England ; but 
before we separated I remarked to her that it was an act of mere 
humanity to warn her that if she should see more of Frank Saltram 
(which would be likely to follow on any increase of acquaintance 
with Mrs. Mulville), she might find herself flattening her nose 
against the clear hard pane of an eternal question that of the 
relative importance of virtue. She replied that this was surely 
a subject on which one took everything for granted ; whereupon 

I admitted 

324 The Coxon Fund 

I admitted that I had perhaps expressed myself ill. What I 
referred to was what I had referred to the night we met in Upper 
Baker Street the importance relative (relative to virtue) of other 
gifts. She asked me if I called virtue a gift as if it were handed 
to us in a parcel on our birthday ; and I declared that this very 
question showed me the problem had already caught her by the 
skirt. She would have help however, help that I myself had once 
had, in resisting its tendency to make one cross. 

" What help do you mean ? " 

" That of the member for Clockborough." 

She stared, smiled, then exclaimed : " Why, my idea has been 
to help him ! " 

She had helped him I had his own word for it that at Clock- 
borough her bedevilment of the voters had really put him in. She 
would do so doubtless again and again, but I heard the very next 
month that this fine faculty had undergone a temporary eclipse. 
News of the catastrophe first came to me from Mrs. Saltram, and 
it was afterwards confirmed at Wimbledon : poor Miss Anvoy 
was in trouble great disasters, in America, had suddenly summoned 
her home. Her father, in New York, had had reverses lost so 
much money that no one knew what mightn t yet come of it. 
It was Adelaide who told me that she had gone off, alone, at less 
than a week s notice. 

" Alone ? Gravener has permitted that ? " 

" What will you have ? The House of Commons ? " 

I m afraid I damned the House of Commons : I was so much 
interested. Of course he would follow her as soon as he was 
free to make her his wife ; only she mightn t now be able to 
bring him anything like the marriage-portion of which he had 
begun by having the pleasant confidence. Mrs. Mulville let me 
know what was already said : she was charming, this Miss Anvoy, 


By Henry James 325 

but really these American girls ! What was a man to do ? 
Mr. Saltram, according to Mrs. Mulville, was of opinion that a 
man was never to suffer his relation to money to become a spiritual 
relation, but was to keep it wholesomely mechanical. " Moi pas 
comprendre ! I commented on this; in rejoinder to which 
Adelaide, with her beautiful sympathy, explained that she supposed 
he simply meant that the thing was to use it, don t you know ! but 
not to think too much about it. " To take it, but not to thank 
you for it ? " I still more profanely inquired. For a quarter of an 
hour afterwards she wouldn t look at me, but this didn t prevent my 
asking her what had been the result, that afternoon in the Regent s 
Park, of her taking our friend to see Miss Anvoy. 

" Oh, so charming ! " she answered, brightening. " He said he 
recognised in her a nature he could absolutely trust." 

" Yes, but I m speaking of the effect on herself." 

Mrs. Mulville was silent an instant. " It was everything one 
could wish." 

Something in her tone made me laugh. Do you mean she 
gave him something ? " 

" Well, since you ask me ! " 

" Right there on the spot ? " 

Again poor Adelaide faltered. " It was to me of course she 
gave it." 

I stared ; somehow I couldn t see the scene. " Do you mean a 
sum of money ? : 

" It was very handsome." Now at last she met my eyes though 
I could see it was with an effort. " Thirty pounds." 

" Straight out of her pocket ? " 

"Out of the drawer of a table at which she had been writing. 
She just slipped the folded notes into my hand. He wasn t look 
ing ; it was while he was going back to the carriage. " Oh," said 


326 The Coxon Fund 

Adelaide reassuringly, " I dole it out ! " The dear practical soul 
thought my agitation, for I confess I was agitated, had reference 
to the administration of the money. Her disclosure made me for 
a moment muse violently, and I daresay that during that moment 
I wondered if anything else in the world makes people as indelicate 
as unselfishnes?. I uttered, I suppose, some vague synthetic cry, 
for she went on as if she had had a glimpse of my inward amaze 
at such episodes. " I assure you, my dear friend, he was in one of 
his happy hours." 

But I wasn t thinking of that. " Truly, indeed, these American 
girls ! " I said. "With her father in the very act, as it were, of 
cheating her betrothed ! " 

Mrs. Mulville stared. " Oh, I suppose Mr. Anvoy has scarcely 
failed on purpose. Very likely they won t be able to keep it up, 
but there it was, and it was a very beautiful impulse." 

" You say Saltram was very fine ? " 

" Beyond everything. He surprised even me." 

" And I know what youve heard." After a moment I added : 
" Had he peradventure caught a glimpse of the money in the table- 
drawers I " 

At this my companion honestly flushed. " How can you be so 
cruel when you know how little he calculates I" 

" Forgive me, I do know it. But you tell me things that act on 
my nerves. I m sure he hadn t caught a glimpse of anything but 
some splendid idea." 

Mrs. Mulville brightly concurred. " And perhaps even of her 
beautiful listening face." 

"Perhaps, even ! And what was it all about I" 

" His talk 1 It was a propos of her engagement, which I had 
told him about : the idea of marriage, the philosophy, the poetry, 
the profundity of it." It was impossible wholly to restrain one s 


By Henry James 327 

mirth at this, and some rude ripple that I emitted again caused my 
companion to admonish me. " It sounds a little stale, but you 
know his freshness." 

" Of illustration ? Indeed I do ! " 

" And how he has always been right on that great question." 

"On what great question, dear lady, hasn t he been right ?" 

"Of what other great men can you equally say it ? I mean that 
he has never, but never, had a deviation ? " Mrs. Mulville exultantly 

I tried to think of some other great man, but I had to give it 
up. " Didn t Miss Anvoy express her satisfaction in any less 
diffident way than by her charming present ? " I was reduced to 
inquiring instead. 

"Oh yes, she overflowed to me on the steps while he was getting 
into the carriage." These words somehow brushed up a picture 
of Saltram s big shawled back as he hoisted himself into the green 
landau. " She said she was not disappointed," Adelaide pursued. 

I meditated a moment. " Did he wear his shawl ? 

" His shawl ? " She had not even noticed. 

"I mean yours." 

"He looked very nice, and you know he s always clean. Miss 
Anvoy used such a remarkable expression she said his mind is like 
a crystal ! " 

I pricked up my ears. " A crystal ? " 

"Suspended in the moral world swinging and shining and 
flashing there. She s monstrously clever, you know." 

I reflected again. " Monstrously ! " 


328 The Coxon Fund 


George Gravener didn t follow her, for late in September, after 
the House had risen, I met him in a railway-carriage. He was 
coming up from Scotland, and I had just quitted the abode of a 
relation who lived near Durham. The current of travel back to 
London was not yet strong ; at any rate on entering the compart 
ment I found he had had it for some time to himself. We fared 
in company, and though he had a blue-book in his lap and the 
open jaws of his bag threatened me with the white teeth of con 
fused papers, we inevitably, we even at last sociably, conversed. I 
saw that things were not well with him, but I asked no question 
until something dropped by himself made an absence of curiosity 
almost rude. He mentioned that he was worried about his good 
old friend Lady Coxon, who, with her niece likely to be detained 
some time in America, lay seriously ill at Clockborough, much on 
his mind and on his hands. 

"Ah, Miss Anvoy s in America?" 

" Her father has got into a horrid mess, lost no end of money." 

I hesitated, after expressing due concern, but I presently said, 
" I hope that raises no obstacle to your marriage." 

"None whatever; moreover it s my trade to meet objections. 
But it may create tiresome delays, of which there have been too 
many, from various causes, already. Lady Coxon got very bad, 
then she got much better. Then Mr. Anvoy suddenly began to 
totter, and now he seems quite on his back. I m afraid he s 
really in for some big disaster. Lady Coxon is worse again, 
awfully upset by the news from America, and she sends me word 


By Henry James 329 

that she must have Ruth. How can I give her Ruth ? I haven t 
got Ruth myself ! " 

" Surely you haven t lost her," I smiled. 

" She s everything to her wretched father. She writes me by 
every post, telling me to smooth her aunt s pillow. I ve other 
things to smooth ; but the old lady, save for her servants, is really 
alone. She won t receive her Coxon relations, because she s angry 
at so much of her money going to them. Besides, she s off her 
head," said Gravener very frankly. 

I don t remember whether it was this, or what it was, that 
made me ask if she had not such an appreciation of Mrs. Saltram 
as might render that active person of some use. 

He gave me a cold glance, asking me what had put Mrs. Saltram 
into my head, and I replied that she was unfortunately never out of 
it. I happened to remember the wonderful accounts she had given 
me of the kindness Lady Coxon had shown her. Gravener 
declared this to be false : Lady Coxon, who didn t care for her, 
hadn t seen her three times. The only foundation for it was that 
Miss Anvoy, who used, poor girl, to chuck money about in a 
manner she must now regret, had for an hour seen in the miserable 
woman (you could never know what she would see in people), an 
interesting pretext for the liberality with which her nature 
overflowed. But even Miss Anvoy was now quite tired of her. 
Gravener told me more about the crash in New York and the 
annoyance it had been to him, and we also glanced here and there 
in other directions; but by the time we got to Doncaster the 
principal thing he had communicated was that he was keeping 
something back. We stopped at that station, and, at the carriage 
door, some one made a movement to get in. Gravener uttered a 
sound of impatience, and I said to myself that but for this I should 
have had the secret. Then the intruder, for some reason, spared 


33 The Coxon Fund 

us his company ; we started afresh, and my hope of the secret 
returned. Gravener remained silent however, and I pretended to 
go to sleep ; in fact, in discouragement, I really dozed. When I 
opened my eyes I found he was looking at me with an injured air. 
He tossed away with some vivacity the remnant of a cigarette and 
then he said : " If you re not too sleepy I want to put you a case." 
I answered that I would make every effort to attend, and I felt 
it was going to be interesting when he went on : " As I told you 
a while ago, Lady Coxon, poor dear, is a maniac." His tone had 
much behind it was full of promise. 1 inquired if her ladyship s 
misfortune were a feature of her malady or only of her character, 
and he replied that it was a product of both. The case he wanted 
to put me was a matter on which it would interest him to have 
the impression the judgment, he might also say of another 
person. "I mean of the average intelligent man," he said : " but 
you see I take what I can get." There would be the technical, 
the strictly legal view ; then there would be the way the question 
would strike a man of the world. He had lighted another 
cigarette while he talked, and I saw he was glad to have it to 
handle when he brought out at last, with a laugh slightly artificial : 
" In fact it s a subject on which Miss Anvoy and I are pulling 
different ways." 

" And you want me to pronounce between you ? I pronounce 
in advance for Miss Anvoy." 

" In advance that s quite right. That s how I pronounced 
when I asked her to marry me. But my story will interest you 
only so far as your mind is not made up." Gravener puffed his 
cigarette a minute and then continued : " Are you familiar with 
the idea of the Endowment of Research ? " 

" Of Research ? " I was at sea for a moment. 

" I give you Lady Coxon s phrase. She has it on the brain." 


By Henry James 331 

" She wishes to endow - ? " 

" Some earnest and disinterested seeker," Gravener said. " It 
was a half-baked plan of her late husband s, and he handed it on to 
her ; setting apart in his will a sum of money of which she was to 
enjoy the interest for life, but of which, should she eventually see 
her opportunity the matter was left largely to her discretion- 
she would best honour his memory by determining the exemplary 
public use. This sum of money, no less than thirteen thousand 
pounds, was to be called the Coxon Fund ; and poor Sir Gregory 
evidently proposed to himself that the Coxon Fund should cover 
his name with glory be universally desired and admired. He left 
his wife a full declaration of his views; so far at least as that term 
may be applied to views vitiated by a vagueness really infantine. 
A little learning is a dangerous thing, and a good citizen who 
happens to have been an ass is worse for a community than the 
small-pox. He s worst of all when he s dead, because then he can t 
be stopped. However, such as they were, the poor man s 
aspirations are now in his wife s bosom, or fermenting rather in 
her foolish brain : it lies with her to carry them out. But of 
course she must first catch her hare." 

" Her earnest, disinterested seeker ? " 

"The man suffering most from want of means, want of the 
pecuniary independence necessary to cause the light that is in him 
to shine upon the human race. The man, in a word, who, 
having the rest of the machinery, the spiritual, the intellectual, is 
most hampered in his search." 

" His search for what ? " 

" For Moral Truth. That s what Sir Gregory calls it." 

I burst out laughing. " Delightful, munificent Sir Gregory ! 
It s a charming idea." 

"So Miss Anvoy thinks." 
The Yellow Book Vol. II. T " Has 

332 The Coxon Fund 

" Has she a candidate for the Fund ? " 

" Not that I know of; and she s perfectly reasonable about it. 
But Lady Coxon has put the matter before her, and we ve 
naturally had a lot of talk." 

" Talk that, as you ve so interestingly intimated, has landed you 
in a disagreement." 

"She considers there s something in it," Gravener said. 

" And you consider there s nothing ? : 

"It seems to me a puerility fraught with consequences in 
evitably grotesque and possibly immoral. To begin with, fancy 
the idea of constituting an endowment without establishing a 
tribunal a bench of competent people, of judges." 

" The sole tribunal is Lady Coxon ? 

" And any one she chooses to invite." 

" But she has invited you." 

" I m not competent I hate the thing. Besides, she hasn t. 
The real history of the matter, I take it, is that the inspiration 
was originally Lady Coxon s own, that she infected him with it, 
and that the flattering option left her is simply his tribute to her 
beautiful, her aboriginal enthusiasm. She came to England forty 
years ago, a thin transcendental Bostonian, and even her odd, 
happy, frumpy Clockborough marriage never really materialised 
her. She feels indeed that she has become very British as if that, 
as a process, as a Werden^ were conceivable ; but it s precisely what 
makes her cling to the notion of the Fund as to a link with the 

" How can she cling if she s dying ? " 

" Do you mean how can she act in the matter ? " my companion 
asked. " That s precisely the question. She can t ! As she has 
never yet caught her hare, never spied out her lucky impostor 
(how should she, with the life she has led ?) her husband s inten 

By Henry James 333 

tion has come very near lasping. His idea, to do him justice, was 
that it should lapse if exactly the right person, the perfect mixture 
of genius and chill penury, should fail to turn up. Ah! Lady 
Coxon s very particular she says there must be no mistake." 

I found all this quite thrilling I took it in with avidity. 
" If she dies without doing anything, what becomes of the 
money ? " I demanded. 

" It goes back to his family, if she hasn t made some other 
disposition of it." 

u She may do that, then she may divert it ? " 

" Her hands are not tied. The proof is that three months ago 
she offered to make it over to her niece." 

" For Miss Anvoy s own use ? " 

" For Miss Anvoy s own use on the occasion of her prospect 
ive marriage. She was discouraged the earnest seeker required 
so earnest a search. She was afraid of making a mistake ; every 
one she could think of seemed either not earnest enough or not 
poor enough. On the receipt of the first bad news about Mr. 
Anvoy s affairs she proposed to Ruth to make the sacrifice for 
her. As the situation in New York got worse she repeated her 

"Which Miss Anvoy declined ? " 

" Except as a formal trust." 

" You mean except as committing herself legally to place the 
money ? " 

" On the head of the deserving object, the great man frustrated," 
said Gravener. " She only consents to act in the spirit of Sir 
Gregory s scheme." 

" And you blame her for that ? : I asked with an excited 

My tone was not harsh, but he coloured a little and there was a 


334 The Coxon Fund 

queer light in his eye. " My dear fellow, if I blamed the young 
lady I m engaged to, I shouldn t immediately say so even to so old 
a friend as you." I saw that some deep discomfort, some restless 
desire to be sided with, reassuringly, becomingly reflected, had 
been at the bottom of his drifting so far, and I was genuinely 
touched by his confidence. It was inconsistent with his habits ; 
but being troubled about a woman was not, for him, a habit : that 
itself was an inconsistency. George Gravener could stand 
straight enough before any other combination of forces. It 
amused me to think that the combination he had succumbed to 
had an American accent, a transcendental aunt and an insolvent 
father ; but all my old loyalty to him mustered to meet this 
unexpected hint that I could help him. I saw that I could from 
the insincere tone in which he pursued : " I ve criticised her of 
course, I ve contended with her, and it has been great fun." It 
clearly couldn t have been such great fun as to make it improper 
for me presently to ask if Miss Anvoy had nothing at all settled 
upon herself. To this he replied that she had only a trifle from 
her mother a mere four hundred a year, which was exactly why 
it would be convenient to him that she shouldn t decline, in the 
face of this total change in her prospects, an accession of income 
which would distinctly help them to marry. When I inquired if 
there were no other way in which so rich and so affectionate an 
aunt could cause the weight of her benevolence to be felt, he 
answered that Lady Coxon was affectionate indeed, but was 
scarcely to be called rich. She could let her project of the Fund 
lapse for her niece s benefit, but she couldn t do anything else. 
She had been accustomed to regard her as tremendously provided 
for, and she was up to her eyes in promises to anxious Coxons. 
She was a woman of an inordinate conscience, and her conscience 
was now a distress to her, hovering round her bed in irreconcilable 


By Henry James 335 

forms of resentful husbands, portionless nieces and undiscoverable 

We were by this time getting into the whirr of fleeting plat 
forms, the multiplication of lights. " I think you ll find," I said 
with a laugh, "that the difficulty will disappear in the very fact 
that the philosopher is undiscoverable." 

He began to gather up his papers. " Who can set a limit to 
the ingenuity of an extravagant woman ? " 

" Yes, after all, who indeed ? " I echoed as I recalled the 
extravagance commemorated in Mrs. Mulville s anecdote of Miss 
Anvoy and the thirty pounds. 


The thing I had been most sensible of in that talk with George 
Gravener was the way Saltram s name kept out of it. It seemed 
to me at the time that we were quite pointedly silent about him ; 
yet afterwards I inclined to think that there had been on my 
companion s part no conscious avoidance. Later on I was sure 
of this, and for the best of reasons the reason, namely, of my 
perceiving more completely that, for evil as well as for good, 
he left Gravener s imagination utterly cold. Gravener was not 
afraid of him ; he was too much disgusted with him. No more 
was I, doubtless, and for very much the same reason. I treated 
my friend s story as an absolute confidence ; but when before 
Christmas, by Mrs. Saltram, I was informed of Lady Coxon s 
death without having had news of Miss Anvoy s return, I found 
myself taking for granted that we should hear no more of these 
nuptials, in which I now recognised an element incongruous from 


336 The Coxon Fund 

the first. I began to ask myself how people who suited each 
other so little could please each other so much. The charm was 
some material charm, some affinity exquisite doubtless, but super 
ficial ; some surrender to youth and beauty and passion, to force 
and grace and fortune, happy accidents and easy contacts. They 
might dote on each other s persons, but how could they know each 
other s souls ? How could they have the same prejudices, how 
could they have the same horizon ? Such questions, I confess, 
seemed quenched but not answered when, one day in February, 
going out to Wimbledon, I found my young lady in the house. 
A passion that had brought her back across the wintry ocean was 
as much of a passion as was necessary. No impulse equally strong 
indeed had drawn George Gravener to America ; a circumstance 
on which, however, I reflected only long enough to remind 
myself that it was none of my business. Ruth Anvoy was 
distinctly different, and I felt that the difference was not simply 
that of her being in mourning. Mrs. Mulville told me soon 
enough what it was : it was the difference between a handsome 
girl with large expectations and a handsome girl with only four 
hundred a year. This explanation indeed didn t wholly content 
me, not even when I learned that her mourning had a double 
cause learned that poor Mr. Anvoy, giving way altogether, 
buried under the ruins of his fortune and leaving next to nothing, 
had died a few weeks before. 

" So she has come out to marry George Gravener ? " I de 
manded. <( Wouldn t it have been prettier of him to have saved 
her the trouble ? " 

" Hasn t the House just met ? said Adelaide. Then she 
added : " I gather that her having come is exactly a sign that the 
marriage is a little shaky. If it were certain, so self-respecting a 
girl as Ruth would have waited for him over there." 

I noted 

By Henry James 337 

I noted that they were already Ruth and Adelaide, but what I 
said was : " Do you mean that she has returned to make it a 
certainty ?" 

No, I mean that I imagine she has come out for some reason 
independent of it." Adelaide could only imagine as yet, and 
there was more, as we found, to be revealed. Mrs. Mulville, on 
hearing of her arrival, had brought the young lady out, in the 
green landau, for the Sunday. The Coxons were in possession of 
the house in the Regent s Park, and Miss Anvoy was in dreary 
lodgings. George Gravener was with her when Adelaide called, 
but he had assented graciously enough to the little visit at Wim 
bledon. The carriage, with Mr. Saltram in it but not mentioned, 
had been sent off on some errand from which it was to return and 
pick the ladies up. Gravener left them together, and at the end 
of an hour, on the Saturday afternoon, the party of three drove out 
to Wimbledon. This was the girl s second glimpse of our great 
man, and I was interested in asking Mrs. Mulville if the impression 
made by the first appeared to have been confirmed. On her 
replying, after consideration, that of course with time and oppor 
tunity it couldn t fail to be, but that as yet she was disappointed, I 
was sufficiently struck with her use of this last word to question 
her further. 

"Do you mean that you re disappointed because you judge that 
Miss Anvoy is ? " 

" Yes ; I hoped for a greater effect last evening. We had two 
or three people, but he scarcely opened his mouth." 

" He ll be all the better this evening," I added after a moment. 
" What particular importance do you attach to the idea of her 
being impressed ? " 

Adelaide turned herclear,pale eyes on me as if she were amazed at 
my levity. "Why, the importance of her being as happy as we are ! " 

I m 

338 The Coxon Fund 

I m afraid that at this my levity increased. " Oh, that s a 
happiness almost too great to wish a person ! " I saw she had not 
yet in her mind what I had in mine, and at any rate the visitor s 
actual bliss was limited to a walk in the garden with Kent Mul- 
ville. Later in the afternoon I also took one, and I saw nothing 
of Miss Anvoy till dinner, at which we were without the company 
of Saltram, who had caused it to be reported that he was out of 
sorts and lying down. This made us, most of us for there were 
other friends present convey to each other in silence some of the 
unutterable things which in those years our eyes had inevitably 
acquired the art of expressing. If an American inquirer had not 
been there we would have expressed them otherwise, and Adelaide 
would have pretended not to hear. I had seen her, before the 
very fact, abstract herself nobly ; and I knew that more than once, 
to keep it from the servants, managing, dissimulating cleverly, she 
had helped her husband to carry him bodily to his room. Just 
recently he had been so wise and so deep and so high that I had 
begun to be nervous to wonder if by chance there were some 
thing behind it, if he were kept straight, for instance, by the know 
ledge that the hated Pudneys would have more to tell us if they 
chose. He was lying low, but unfortunately it was common 
knowledge with us that the biggest splashes took place in the 
quietest pools. We should have had a merry life indeed if all the 
splashes had sprinkled us as refreshingly as the waters we were 
even then to feel about our ears. Kent Mulville had been up to 
his room, but had come back with a facial inscrutability that I had 
seen him achieve in equal measure only on the evening I waited in 
the lecture-room with Miss Anvoy. I said to myself that our 
friend had gone out, but I was glad that the presence of a com 
parative stranger deprived us of the dreary duty of suggesting to 
each other, in respect of his errand, edifying possibilities in which 


By Henry James 339 

we didn t ourselves believe. At ten o clock he came into the 
drawing-room with his waistcoat much awry but his eyes sending 
out great signals. It was precisely with his entrance that I ceased 
to be vividly conscious of him. I saw that the crystal, as I had 
called it, had begun to swing, and I had need of my immediate 
attention for Miss Anvoy. 

Even when I was told afterwards that he had, as we might have 
said to-day, broken the record, the manner in which that attention 
had been rewarded relieved me of a sense of loss. I had of course 
a perfect general consciousness that something great was 
going on : it was a little like having been etherised to hear Herr 
Joachim play. The old music was in the air ; I felt the strong 
pulse of thought, the sink and swell, the flight, the poise, the plunge; 
but I knew something about one of the listeners that nobody else 
knew, and Saltram s monologue could reach me only through that 
medium. To this hour I m of no use when, as a witness, I m 
appealed to (for they still absurdly contend about it), as to whether 
or no on that historic night he was drunk ; and my position is 
slightly ridiculous, for I have never cared to tell them what it 
really was I was taken up with. What I got out of it is the only 
morsel of the total experience that is quite my own. The others 
were shared, but this is incommunicable. I feel that now, I m 
bound to say, in even thus roughly evoking the occasion, and it 
takes something from my pride of clearness. However, I shall 
perhaps be as clear as is absolutely necessary if I remark that she 
was too much given up to her own intensity of observation to be 
sensible of mine. It was plainly not the question of her marriage 
that had brought her back. I greatly enjoyed this discovery and 
was sure that had that question alone been involved she would 
have remained away. In this case doubtless Gravener would, in 
spite of the House of Commons, have found means to rejoin her. 


34 The Coxon Fund 

It afterwards made me uncomfortable for her that, alone in the 
lodging Mrs. Mulville had put before me as dreary, she should 
have in any degree the air of waiting for her fate ; so that I was 
presently relieved at hearing of her having gone to stay at Cold- 
field. If she was in England at all while the engagement stood 
the only proper place for her was under Lady Maddock s wing. 
Now that she was unfortunate and relatively poor, perhaps her 
prospective sister-in-law would be wholly won over. There 
would be much to say, if I had space, about the way her behaviour, 
as I caught gleams of it, ministered to the image that had taken 
birth in my mind, to my private amusement, as I listened to 
George Gravener in the railway carriage. I watched her in the 
light of this queer possibility a formidable thing certainly to 
meet and I was aware that it coloured, extravagantly perhaps, 
my interpretation of her very looks and tones. At Wimbledon 
for instance it had seemed to me that she was literally afraid of 
Saltram, in dread of a coercion that she had begun already to feel. 
I had come up to town with her the next day and had been con 
vinced that, though deeply interested, she was immensely on her 
guard. She would show as little as possible before she should be 
ready to show everything. What this final exhibition might be 
on the part of a girl perceptibly so able to think things out I 
found it great sport to conjecture. It would have been exciting 
to be approached by her, appealed to by her for advice ; but I 
prayed to heaven I mightn t find myself in such a predicament. 
If there was really a present rigour in the situation of which 
Gravener had sketched for me the elements she would have to get 
out of her difficulty by herself. It was not I who had launched 
her and it was not I who could help her. I didn t fail to ask 
myself why, since I couldn t help her, I should think so much 
about her. It was in part my suspense that was responsible for 


By Henry James 341 

this : I waited impatiently to see whether she wouldn t have told 
Mrs. Mulville a portion at least of what I had learned from 
Gravener. But I saw Mrs. Mulville was still reduced to wonder 
what she had come out again for if she hadn t come as a concilia 
tory bride. That she had come in some other character was the 
only thing that fitted all the appearances. Having for family 
reasons to spend some time that spring in the west of England, I 
was in a manner out of earshot of the great oceanic rumble (I 
mean of the continuous hum of Saltram s thought), and my 
nervousness tended to keep me quiet. There was something I 
wanted so little to have to say that my prudence surmounted my 
curiosity. I only wondered if Ruth Anvoy talked over the idea 
of the Coxon Fund with Lady Maddock, and also somewhat why 
I didn t hear from Wimbledon. I had a reproachful note about 
something or other from Mrs. Saltram, but it contained no 
mention of Lady Coxon s niece, on whom her eyes had been 
much less fixed since the recent untoward events. 


Adelaide s silence was fully explained later ; it was practically 
explained when in June, returning to London, liwas honoured by 
this admirable woman with an early visit. As soon as she 
appeared I guessed everything, and as soon as she told me that 
darling Ruth had been in her house nearly a month I 
exclaimed : " What in the name of maidenly modesty is she 
staying in England for ? " 

" Because she loves me so ! " cried Adelaide gaily. But she 
had not come to see me only to tell me Miss Anvoy loved her : 


342 The Coxon Fund 

that was now sufficiently established, and what was much more to 
the point was that Mr. Gravener had now raised an objection to 
it. That is he had protested against her being at Wimbledon, 
where in the innocence of his heart he had originally brought 
her himself; in short he wanted her to put an end to their 
engagement in the only proper, the only happy manner. 
" And why in the world doesn t she do so ? " I inquired. 
Adelaide hesitated. " She says you know." Then on my also 
hesitating she added : " A condition he makes." 
" The Coxon Fund ? " I cried. 

" He has mentioned to her his having told you about it." 
" Ah, but so little ! Do you mean she has accepted the 
trust ! " 

" In the most splendid spirit as a duty about which there can 
be no two opinions." Then said Adelaide after an instant : " Of 
course she s thinking of Mr. Saltram." 

I gave a quick cry at this, which, in its violence, made my 
visitor turn pale. " How very awful ! " 
"Awful ?" 

"Why, to have anything to do with such an idea oneself." 
" I m sure you needn t ! " Mrs. Mulville gave a slight toss of 
her head. 

" He isn t good enough ! " I went on ; to which she responded 
with an ejaculation almost as lively as mine had been. This made 
me, with genuine, immediate horror, exclaim : " You haven t 
influenced her, I hope !" and my emphasis brought back the 
blood with a rush to poor Adelaide s face. She declared while she 
blushed (for I had frightened her again), that she had never in 
fluenced anybody and that the girl had only seen and heard and 
judged for herself. He had influenced her, if I would, as he did 
everyone who had a soul : that word, as we knew, even expressed 


By Henry James 343 

feebly the power of the things he said to haunt the mind. How 
could she, Adelaide, help it if Miss Anvoy s mind was haunted ? 
I demanded with a groan what right a pretty girl engaged to a 
rising M.P. had to have a mind ; but the only explanation my 
bewildered friend could give me was that she was so clever. She 
regarded Mr. Saltram naturally as a tremendous force for good. 
She was intelligent enough to understand him and generous 
enough to admire. 

" She s many things enough, but is she, among them, rich 
enough?" I demanded. "Rich enough, I mean, to sacrifice 
such a lot of good money ? " 

" That s for herself to judge. Besides, it s not her own money ; 
she doesn t in the least consider it so." 

"And Gravener does, if not his own : and that s the whole 
difficulty ? " 

" The difficulty that brought her back, yes : she had absolutely 
to see her poor aunt s solicitor. It s clear that by Lady Coxon s 
will she may have the money, but it s still clearer to her conscience 
that the original condition, definite, intensely implied on her 
uncle s part, is attached to the use of it. She can only take one 
view of it. It s for the Endowment or it s for nothing." 

" The Endowment is a conception superficially sublime but 
fundamentally ridiculous." 

"Are you repeating Mr. Gravener s words ? " Adelaide asked. 

" Possibly, though I ve not seen him for months. It s simply 
the way it strikes me too. It s an old wife s tale. Gravener 
made some reference to the legal aspect, but such an absurdly loose 
arrangement has no legal aspect." 

"Ruth doesn t insist on that," said Mrs. Mulville ; "and it s, 
for her, exactly this weakness that constitutes the force of the 
moral obligation." 


344 The Coxon Fund 

" Are you repeating her words ?" I inquired. I forgot what 
else Adelaide said, but she said she was magnificent. I thought of 
George Gravener confronted with such magnificence as that, and 
I asked what could have made two such people ever suppose they 
understood each other. Mrs. Mulville assured me the girl loved 
him as such a woman could love and that she suffered as such a 
woman could suffer. Nevertheless she wanted to see me. At 
this I sprang up with a groan. " Oh, I m so sorry ! when ? " 
Small though her sense of humour, I think Adelaide laughed at 
my tone. We discussed the day, the nearest, it would be con 
venient I should come out ; but before she went I asked my visitor 
how long she had been acquainted with these prodigies. 

" For several weeks, but I was pledged to secrecy." 

"And that s why you didn t write ? " 

" 1 couldn t very well tell you she was with me without telling 
you that no time had even yet been fixed for her marriage. And 
I couldn t very well tell you as much as that without telling you 
what I knew of the reason 01 it. It was not till a day or two 
ago," Mrs. Mulville went on, " that she asked me to ask you if 
you wouldn t come and see her. Then at last she said that you 
knew about the idea of the Endowment." 

I considered a little. " Why on earth does she want to see 
me ? " 

" To talk with you, naturally, about Mr. Saltram." 

" As a subject for the prize ?" This was hugely obvious, and 
I presently exclaimed: "I think I ll sail to-morrow for 

" Well then sail ! " said Mrs. Mulville, getting up. 

"On Thursday at five, we said?" I frivolously continued. 
The appointment was made definite and I inquired how, all this 
time, the unconscious candidate had carried himself. 


By Henry James 345 

" In perfection, really, by the happiest of chances : he has been a 
dear. And then, as to what we revere him for, in the most 
wonderful form. His very highest pure celestial light. You 
won t do him an ill turn ? " Adelaide pleaded at the door. 

What danger can equal for him the danger to which he is ex 
posed from himself? " I asked. " Look out sharp, if he has lately 
been reasonable. He will presently treat us to some exhibition that 
will make an Endowment a scandal." 

" A scandal ? " Mrs. Mulville dolorously echoed. 
" Is Miss Anvoy prepared for that ? " 

My visitor, for a moment, screwed her parasol into my carpet. 
" He grows larger every day." 

" So do you ! " I laughed as she went off. 

That girl at Wimbledon, on the Thursday afternoon, more than 
justified my apprehensions. I recognised fully now the cause of 
the agitation she had produced in me from the first the faint fore 
knowledge that there was something very stiff I should have to do 
for her. I felt more than ever committed to my fate as, standing 
before her in the big drawing-room where they had tactfully left 
us to ourselves, I tried with a smile to string together the pearls 
of lucidity which, from her chair, she successively tossed me. Pale 
and bright, in her monotonous mourning, she was an image of 
intelligent purpose, of the passion of duty ; but I asked myself 
whether any girl had ever had so charming an instinct as that 
which permitted her to laugh out, as if in the joy of her difficulty, 
into the blasle old room. This remarkable young woman could 
be earnest without being solemn, and at moments when I ought 
doubtless to have cursed her obstinacy I found myself watching the 
unstudied play of her eyebrows or the recurrence of a singularly 
intense whiteness produced by the parting of her lips. These 
aberrations, I hasten to add, didn t prevent my learning soon 


346 The Coxon Fund 

enough why she had wished to see me. Her reason for this was 
as distinct as her beauty : it was to make me explain what I had 
meant, on the occasion of our first meeting, by Mr. Saltram s want 
of dignity. It wasn t that she couldn t imagine, but she desired 
it there from my lips. What she really desired of course was 
to know whether there was worse about him than what she had 
found out for herself. She hadn t been a month in the house with 
him, that way, without discovering that he wasn t a man of starch 
and whalebone. He was like a jelly without a mould, he had to 
be embanked ; and that was precisely the source of her interest 
in him and the ground of her project. She put her project boldly 
before me: there it stood in its preposterous beauty. She was as 
willing to take the humorous view of it as I could be : the only 
difference was that for her the humorous view of a thing was not 
necessarily prohibitive, was not paralysing. 

Moreover she professed that she couldn t discuss with me the 
primary question the moral obligation : that was in her own 
breast. There were things she couldn t go into injunctions, 
impressions she had received. They were a part of the 
closest intimacy of her intercourse with her aunt, they were abso 
lutely clear to her ; and on questions of delicacy, the interpretation 
of a fidelity, of a promise, one had always in the last resort to 
make up one s mind for oneself. It was the idea of the applica 
tion to the particular case, such a splendid one at last, that troubled 
her, and she admitted that it stirred very deep things. She didn t 
pretend that such a responsibility was a simple matter ; if it had 
been she wouldn t have attempted to saddle me with any portion 
of it. The Mulvilles were sympathy itself ; but were they abso 
lutely candid ? Could they indeed be, in their position would it 
even have been to be desired ? Yes, she had sent for me to ask 
no less than that of me whether there was anything dreadful 


By Henry James 347 

kept back. She made no allusion whatever to George Gravener 
I thought her silence the only good taste and her gaiety perhaps 
a part of the very anxiety of that discretion, the effect of a deter 
mination that people shouldn t know from herself that her relations 
with the man she was to marry were strained. All the weight, 
however, that she left me to throw was a sufficient implication of 
the weight that he had thrown in vain. Oh, she knew the 
question of character was immense, and that one couldn t entertain 
any plan for making merit comfortable without running the 
gauntlet of that terrible procession of interrogation-points which, 
like a young ladies school out for a walk, hooked their uniform 
noses at the tail of governess Conduct. But were we absolutely to 
hold that their was never, never, never an exception, never, never, 
never an occasion for liberal acceptance, for clever charity, for 
suspended pedantry for letting one side, in short, outbalance 
another? When Miss Anvoy threw off this inquiry I could have 
embraced her for so delightfully emphasising her unlikeness to 
Mrs. Saltram. " Why not have the courage of one s forgiveness," 
she asked, "as well as the enthusiasm of one s adhesion ? " 

"Seeing how wonderfully you have threshed the whole thing 
out," I evasively replied, "gives me an extraordinary notion of the 
point your enthusiasm has reached." 

She considered this remark an instant with her eye on mine, and 
I divined that it struck her I might possibly intend it as a reference 
to some personal subjection to our fat philosopher, to some fanciful 
transfigurement, some perversion of taste. At least I couldn t in 
terpret otherwise the sudden flush that came into her face. Such 
a manifestation, as the result of any word of mine, embarrassed 
me ; but while I was thinking how to reassure her the colour I 
speak of passed away in a smile of exquisite good nature. " Oh, 
you see, one forgets so wonderfully how one dislikes him ! " she 

The Yellow Book Vol. II. u said ; 

348 The Coxon Fund 

said ; and if her tone simply extinguished his strange figure with 
the brush of its compassion, it also rings in my ear to-day as the 
purest of all our praises. But with what quick response of com 
passion such a relegation of the man himself made me privately 
sigh : " Ah, poor Saltram ! " She instantly, with this, took the 
measure of all I didn t believe, and it enabled her to go on : 
" What can one do when a person has given such a lift to one s 
interest in life ?" 

" Yes, what can one do ? " If I struck her as a little vague it 
was because I was thinking of another person. I indulged in 
another inarticulate murmur " Poor George Gravener ! " What 
had become of the lift he had given that interest ? Later on I 
made up my mind that she was sore and stricken at the appearance 
he presented of wanting the miserable money. It was the hidden 
reason of her alienation. The probable sincerity, in spite of the 
illiberality, of his scruples about the particular use of it under dis 
cussion didn t efface the ugliness of his demand that they should 
buy a good house with it. Then, as for his alienation, he didn t, 
pardonably enough, grasp the lift Frank Saltram had given her 
interest in life. If a mere spectator could ask that last question, 
with what rage in his heart the man himself might ! He was 
not, like her, I was to see, too proud to show me why he was 


I was unable, this time, to stay to dinner : such, at any rate, 
was the plea on which I took leave. I desired in truth to get 
away from my young lady, for that obviously helped me not to 
pretend to satisfy her. How could I satisfy her ? I asked myself 


By Henry James 349 

how could I tell her how much had been kept back ? I didn t 
even know, myself, and I certainly didn t desire to know. My 
own policy had ever been to learn the least about poor Saltram s 
weaknesses not to learn the most. A great deal that I had in 
fact learned had been forced upon me by his wife. There was 
something even irritating in Miss Anvoy s crude conscientious 
ness, and I wondered why after all she couldn t have let him alone 
and been content to entrust George Gravener with the purchase 
of the good house. I was sure he would have driven a bargain, 
got something excellent and cheap. I laughed louder even than 
she, I temporised, I failed her ; I told her I must think over her 
case. I professed a horror of responsibilities and twitted her with 
her own extravagant passion for them. It was not really that I 
was afraid of the scandal, the moral discredit for the Fund ; 
what troubled me most was a feeling of a different order. Of 
course, as the beneficiary of the Fund was to enjoy a simple life- 
interest, as it was hoped that new beneficiaries would arise and 
come up to new standards, it would not be a trifle that the first of 
these worthies should not have been a striking example of the 
domestic virtues. The Fund would start badly, as it were, and the 
laurel would, in some respects at least, scarcely be greener from 
the brows of the original wearer. That idea however was at 
that hour, as I have hinted, not the source of anxiety it ought 
perhaps to have been, for I felt less the irregularity of Saltram s 
getting the money than that of this exalted young woman s 
giving it up. I wanted her to have it for herself, and I told her 
so before J went away. She looked graver at this than she had 
looked at all, saying she hoped such a preference wouldn t make 
me dishonest. 

It made me, to begin with, very restless made me, instead of 
going straight to the station, fidget a little about that many- 

35 The Coxon Fund 

coloured Common which gives Wimbledon horizons. There 
was a worry for me to work off, or rather keep at a distance, for I 
declined even to admit to myself that I had, in Miss Anvoy s 
phrase, been saddled with it. What could have been clearer 
indeed than the attitude of recognising perfectly what a world of 
trouble the Coxon Fund would in future save us, and of yet 
liking better to face a continuance of that trouble than see, and in 
fact contribute to, a deviation from attainable bliss in the life of 
two other persons in whom I was deeply interested ? Suddenly, 
at the end of twenty minutes, there was projected across this clear 
ness the image of a massive, middle-aged man seated on a bench, 
under a tree, with sad, far-wandering eyes and plump white hands 
folded on the head of a stick a stick I recognised, a stout gold- 
headed staff ithat I had given him in throbbing days. I stopped 
short as he turned his face to me, and it happened that for some 
reason or other I took in as I had perhaps never done before the 
beauty of his rich blank gaze. It was charged with experience as 
the sky is charged with light, and I felt on the instant as if we 
had been overspanned and conjoined by the great arch of a bridge 
or the great dome of a temple. Doubtless I was rendered pecu 
liarly sensitive to it by something in the way I had been giving 
him up and sinking him. While 1 met it I stood there smitten, 
and I felt myself responding to it with a sort of guilty grimace. 
This brought back his attention in a smile which expressed for me 
a cheerful, weary patience, a bruised noble gentleness. I had told 
Miss Anvoy that he had no dignity, but what did he seem to me, 
all unbuttoned and fatigued as he waited for me to come up, if he 
didn t seem unconcerned with small things, didn t seem in short 
majestic ? There was majesty in his mere unconsciousness of our 
little conferences and puzzlements over his maintenance and his 


By Henry James 351 

After I had sat by him a few minutes I passed my arm over 
his big soft shoulder (wherever you touched him you found 
equally little firmness,) and said in a tone of which the 
suppliance fell oddly on my own ear : " Come back to town 
with me, old friend come back and spend the evening." I 
wanted to hold him, I wanted to keep him, and at Waterloo, an 
hour later, I telegraphed possessively to the Mulvilles. When he 
objected, as regards staying all night, that he had no things, I 
asked him if he hadn t everything of mine. I had abstained from 
ordering dinner, and it was too late for preliminaries at a club ; so 
we were reduced to tea and fried fish at my rooms reduced also 
to the transcendent. Something had come up which made me 
want him to feel at peace with me, which was all the dear man 
himself wanted on any occasion. I had too often had to press 
upon him considerations irrelevant, but it gives me pleasure now to 
think that on that particular evening I didn t even mention Mrs. 
Saltram and the children. Late into the night we smoked and 
talked ; old shames and old rigours fell away from us ; I only let 
him see that I was conscious of what I owed him. He was as 
mild as contrition and as abundant as faith ; he was never so fine 
as on a shy return, and even better at forgiving than at being 
forgiven. I daresay it was a smaller matter than that famous 
night at Wimbledon, the night of the problematical sobriety and 
of Miss Anvoy s initiation ; but I was as much in it on this 
occasion as I had been out of it then. At about 1.30 he was 

He never, under any circumstances, rose till all other risings 
were over, and his breakfasts, at Wimbledon, had always been the 
principal reason mentioned by departing cooks. The coast was 
therefore clear for me to receive her when, early the next morn 
ing, to my surprise, it was announced to me that his wife had 


352 The Coxon Fund 

called. I hesitated, after she had come up, about telling her 
Saltram was in the house, but she herself settled the question, kept 
me reticent, by drawing forth a sealed letter which, looking at me 
very hard in the eyes, she placed, with a pregnant absence of com 
ment, in my hand. For a single moment there glimmered before 
me the fond hope that Mrs. Saltram had tendered me, as it were, 
her resignation and desired to embody the act in an unsparing 
form. To bring this about I would have feigned any humilia 
tion ; but after my eyes had caught the superscription I heard my 
self say with a flatness that betrayed a sense of something very 
different from relief: "Oh, the Pudneys ? " I knew their enve. 
lopes, though they didn t know mine. They always used the kind 
sold at post-offices with the stamp affixed, and as this letter had 
not been posted they had wasted a penny on me. I had seen their 
horrid missives to the Mulvilles, but had not been in direct corre 
spondence with them. 

"They enclosed it to me, to be delivered. They doubtless 
explain to you that they hadn t your address." 

I turned the thing over without opening it. " Why in the 
world should they write to me ? " 

"Because they have something to tell you. The worst," 
Mrs. Saltram dryly added. 

It was another chapter, I felt, of the history of their lamentable 
quarrel with her husband, the episode in which, vindictively, 
disingenuously as they themselves had behaved, one had to admit 
that he had put himself more grossly in the wrong than at any 
moment of his life. He had begun by insulting the matchless 
Mulvilles for these more specious protectors, and then, according 
to his wont at the end of a few months, had dug a still deeper 
ditch for his aberration than the chasm left yawning behind. The 
chasm at Wimbledon was now blessedly closed; but the Pudneys 


By Henry James 353 

across their persistent gulf, kept up the nastiest fire. I never 
doubted they had a strong case, and I had been from the first for 
not defending him reasoning that if they were not contradicted 
they would perhaps subside. This was above all what I wanted, 
and I so far prevailed, that I did arrest the correspondence in time 
to save our little circle an infliction heavier than it perhaps would 
have borne. I knew, that is I divined, that they had produced as 
yet as much as they dared, conscious as they were in their 
own virtue of an exposed place in which Saltram could have 
planted a blow. It was a question with them whether a man who 
had himself so much to cover up would dare ; so that these vessels 
of rancour were in a manner afraid of each other. I judged that 
on the day the Pudneys should cease for some reason or other to 
be afraid they would treat us to some revelation more disconcert 
ing than any of its predecessors. As I held Mr. Saltram s letter 
in my hand it was distinctly communicated to me that the day 
had come they had ceased to be afraid. "I don t want to know 
the worst," I presently declared. 

" You ll have to open the letter. It also contains an enclo 


I felt it it was fat and uncanny. " Wheels within wheels ! " 
I exclaimed. " There is something for me too to deliver." 

" So they tell me to Miss Anvoy." 

I stared ; I felt a certain thrill. " Why don t they send it to 
her directly ? " 

Mrs. Saltram hesitated ! " Because she s staying with Mr. and 
Mrs. Mulville." 

"And why should that prevent ? " 

Again my visitor faltered, and I began to reflect on the 
grotesque, the unconscious perversity of her action. I was the only 
person save George Gravener and the Mulvilles who was aware of 


354 The Coxon Fund 

Sir Gregory Coxon s and of Miss Anvoy s strange bounty. Where 
could there have been a more signal illustration of the clumsiness 
of human affairs than her having complacently selected this moment 
to fly in the face of it ? " There s the chance of their seeing her 
letters. They know Mr. Pudney s hand." 

Still I didn t understand ; then it flashed upon me. " You 
mean they might intercept it ? How can you imply anything so 
base ? " I indignantly demanded. 

"It s not I; it s Mr. Pudney ! " cried Mrs. Saltram with a 
flush. " It s his own idea." 

"Then why couldn t he send the letter to you to be de 
livered ? " 

Mrs. Saltram s colour deepened ; she gave me another hard 
look. " You must make that out for yourself." 

I made it out quickly enough. " It s a denunciation ? " 

"A real lady doesn t betray her husband !" this virtuous woman 

I burst out laughing, and I fear my laugh may have had an 
effect of impertinence. 

"Especially to Miss Anvoy, who s so easily shocked ? Why 
do such things concern her ? " I asked, much at a loss. 

"Because she s there, exposed to all his craft. Mr. and Mrs. 
Pudney have been watching this ; they feel she may be taken in." 

"Thank you for all the rest of us ! What difference can it 
make, when she has lost her power to contribute ? " 

Again Mrs. Saltram considered ; then very nobly : " There are 
other things in the world than money," she remarked. This 
hadn t occurred to her so long as the young lady had any ; but 
she now added, with a glance at my letter, that Mr. and Mrs. 
Pudney doubtless explained their motives. " It s all in kindness," 
she continued as she got up. 

" Kindness 

By Henry James 355 

" Kindness to Miss Anvoy ? You took, on the whole, another 
view of kindness before her reverses." 

My companion smiled with some acidity. " Perhaps you re no 
safer than the Mulvilles ! " 

I didn t want her to think that, nor that she should report to 
the Pudneys that they had not been happy in their agent ; and I 
well remember that this was the moment at which I began, with 
considerable emotion, to promise myself to enjoin upon Miss 
Anvoy never to open any letter that should come to her with a 
stamp worked into the envelope. My emotion and I fear I must 
add my confusion quickly increased ; I presently should have 
been as glad to frighten Mrs. Saltram as to think I might by 
some diplomacy restore the Pudneys to a quieter vigilance. 
" It s best you should take my view of my safety," I at any rate 
soon responded. When I saw she didn t know what I meant by 
this I added : " You may turn out to have done, in bringing me 
this letter, a thing you will profoundly regret." My tone had a 
significance which, I could see, did make her uneasy, and there 
was a moment, after I had made two or three more remarks of 
studiously bewildering effect, at which her eyes followed so 
hungrily the little flourish of the letter with which I emphasised 
them, that I instinctively slipped Mr. Pudney s communication 
into my pocket. She looked, in her embarrassed annoyance, as if 
she might grab it and send it back to him. I felt, after she had 
gone, as if I had almost given her my word I wouldn t deliver the 
enclosure. The passionate movement, at any rate, with which, 
in solitude, I transferred the whole thing, unopened, from my 
pocket to a drawer which I double-locked would have amounted, 
for an initiated observer, to some such promise. 


356 The Coxon Fund 


Mrs. Saltram left me drawing my breath more quickly and 
indeed almost in pain as if I had just perilously grazed the loss 
of something precious. I didn t quite know what it was it had 
a shocking resemblance to my honour. The emotion was the 
livelier doubtless in that my pulses were still shaken with the 
great rejoicing with which, the night before, I had rallied to the 
most potent inspirer it could ever have been a man s fortune to 
meet. What had dropped from me like a cumbersome garment 
as Saltram appeared before me in the afternoon on the heath was 
the disposition to haggle over his value. Hang it, one had to 
choose, one had to put that value somewhere ; so I would put it 
really high and have done with it. Mrs. Mulville drove in for 
him at a discreet hour the earliest she could presume him to 
have got up ; and I learned that Miss Anvoy would also have 
come had she not been expecting a visit from Mr. Gravener. I 
was perfectly mindful that I was under bonds to see this young 
lady, and also that I had a letter to deliver to her ; but I took my 
time, I waited from day to day. I left Mrs. Saltram to deal as 
her apprehensions should prompt with the Pudneys. I knew at 
last what I meant I had ceased to wince at my responsibility. 
I gave this supreme impression of Saltram time to fade if it 
would ; but it didn t fade, and, individually, it has not faded even 
now. During the month that I thus invited myself to stiffen 
again Adelaide Mulville, perplexed by my absence, wrote to me 
to ask why I was so stiff. At that season of the year I was 
usually oftener with them. She also wrote that she feared a real 
estrangement had set in between Mr. Gravener and her sweet 


By Henry James 357 

young friend a state of things only partly satisfactory to her so 
long as the advantage accruing to Mr. Saltram failed to disengage 
itself from the cold mists of theory. She intimated that her sweet 
young friend was, if anything, a trifle too reserved ; she also 
intimated that there might now be an opening for another clever 
young man. There never was the slightest opening, I may here 
parenthesise, and of course the question can t come up to-day. 
These are old frustrations now. Ruth Anvoy has not married, I 
hear, and neither have I. During the month, toward the end, I 
wrote to George Gravener to ask if, on a special errand, I might 
come to see him, and his answer was to knock the very next day 
at my door. I saw he had immediately connected my inquiry 
with the talk we had had in the railway carriage, and his prompti 
tude showed that the ashes of his eagerness were not yet cold. I 
told him there was something I thought I ought in candour to let 
him know I recognised the obligation his friendly confidence 
had laid upon me. 

" You mean that Miss Anvoy has talked to you ? She has told 
me so herself," he said. 

" It was not to tell so that / wanted to see you," I replied ; 
"for it seemed to me that such a communication would rest 
wholly with herself. If however she did speak to you of our 
conversation she probably told you that I was discouraging." 

" Discouraging ?" 

" On the subject of a present application of the Coxon Fund." 

" To the case of Mr. Saltram ? My dear fellow, I don t know 
what you call discouraging ! " Gravener exclaimed. 

" Well, I thought I was, and I thought she thought I was." 

" I believe she did, but such a thing is measured by the effect. 
She s not discouraged." 

" That s her own affair. The reason I asked you to see me 


358 The .Coxon Fund 

was that it appeared to me I ought to tell you frankly that 
decidedly I can t undertake to produce that effect. In fact I 
don t want to ! " 

"It s very good of you, damn you !" my visitor laughed, red 
and really grave. Then he said : " You would like to see that 
fellow publicly glorified perched on the pedestal of a great com 
plimentary fortune ? " 

"Taking one form of public recognition with another, it seems 
to me on the whole I could bear it. When I see the compli 
ments that are paid right and left, I ask myself why this one 
shouldn t take its course. This therefore is what you re entitled 
to have looked to me to mention to you. I have some evidence 
that perhaps would be really dissuasive, but I propose to invite 
Miss Anvoy to remain in ignorance of it." 

" And to invite me to do the same ? " 

" Oh, you don t require it you ve evidence enough. I speak 
of a sealed letter which I ve been requested to deliver to her." 

" And you don t mean to ? " 

" There s only one consideration that would make me." 

Gravener s clear, handsome eyes plunged into mine a minute ; 
but evidently without fishing up a clue to this motive a failure 
by which I was almost wounded. "What does the letter con 
tain ? " 

" It s sealed, as I tell you, and I don t know what it contains." 

" Why is it sent through you ? " 

" Rather than you ? " I hesitated a moment. " The only ex 
planation I can think of is that the person sending it may have 
imagined your relations with Miss Anvoy to be at an end may 
have been told they were by Mrs. Saltram." 

" My relations with Miss Anvoy are not at an end," poor 
Gravener stammered. 


By Henry James 359 

Again, for an instant, I deliberated. "The offer I propose to 
make you gives me the right to put you a question remarkably 
direct. Are you still engaged to Miss Anvoy ? " 

" No, I m not," he slowly brought out. " But we re perfectly 
good friends." 

" Such good friends that you will again become prospective 
husband and wife if the obstacle in your path be removed ? " 

" Removed ? " Gravener vaguely repeated. 

" If I give Miss Anvoy the letter I speak of she may drop her 

" Then for God s sake give it ! " 

"I ll do so if you re ready to assure me that her dropping it 
would now presumably bring about your marriage." 

" I d marry her the next day ! " my visitor cried. 

" Yes, but would she marry you ? What I ask of you of 
course is nothing less than your word of honour as to your con 
viction of this. If you give it me," I said, "I ll place the letter 
in her hand to-day." 

Gravener took up his hat ; turning it mechanically round, he 
stood looking a moment hard at its unruffled perfection. Then, 
very angrily, honestly and gallantly : " Place it in hell ! " he 
broke out ; with which he clapped the hat on his head and left me. 

" Will you read it or not ? " I said to Ruth Anvoy, at Wimble 
don, when I had told her the story of Mrs. Saltram s visit. 

She reflected for a period which was probably of the briefest, 
but which was long enough to make me nervous. " Have you 
brought it with you ? : 

" No indeed. It s at home, locked up." 

There was another great silence, and then she said : " Go back 
and destroy it." 

I went back, but I didn t destroy it till after Saltram s death, 


360 The Coxon Fund 

when I burnt it unread. The Pudneys approached her again 
pressingly, but, prompt as they were, the Coxon Fund had already 
become an operative benefit and a general amaze ; Mr. Saltram, 
while we gathered about, as it were, to watch the manna descend, 
was already drawing the magnificent income. He drew it as he 
had always drawn everything, with a grand abstracted gesture. 
Its magnificence, alas, as all the world now knows, quite quenched 
him ; it was the beginning of his decline. It was also naturally 
a new grievance for his wife, who began to believe in him as soon 
as he was blighted and who to this day accuses us of having bribed 
him to gratify the fad of a pushing American, to renounce his 
glorious office, to become, as she says, like everybody else. On 
the day he found himself able to publish he wholly ceased to produce. 
This deprived us, as may easily be imagined, of much of our 
occupation, and especially deprived the Mulvilles, whose want of 
self-support I never measured till they lost their great inmate. 
They have no one to live on now. Adelaide s most frequent 
reference to their destitution is embodied in the remark that dear 
far-away Ruth s intentions were doubtless good. She and Kent 
are even yet looking for another prop, but every one is so dread 
fully robust. With Saltram the type was scattered, the grander, 
the elder style. They have got their carriage back, but what s an 
empty carriage ? In short, I think we were all happier as well as 
poorer before ; even including George Gravener, who, by the 
deaths of his brother and his nephew, has lately become Lord 
Maddock. His wife, whose fortune clears the property, is 
criminally dull ; he hates being in the Upper House and he has 
not yet had high office. But what are these accidents, which I 
should perhaps apologise for mentioning, in the light of the great 
eventual boon promised the patient by the rate at which the Coxon 
Fund must be rolling up ? 

For the Backs of Playing Cards 

By Aymer Vallance 


of Content. By Frederic!; 

Louis. By Ella D Arcy 

oser of "Carmen." By 


a Week. By Joha David- 

lility. By Henry Harland 
y Dollie Radford 
Charlotte M. Mew 
psisse. By Austin Dobson 
es. By V., O., C. S. 
:ry. By Katharine de 

Book, criticised. By Philip 
Hamerton, LL.D, 

r Ronald Campbell 1VI :cfie 
ene. By Deuplun Meunier 
i Road. By Kenneth 

By Normssa Gale 
i Desire. By Nctta Syretl 

n LiterosJure, By Hubecl 

By Alfred Hayes 

the Editor. j5y Max 

By William Wa;-jon 
Fund, By Henry James 



The Renaissance of Venus. By Walter 

II. The Lamplighter. By A. S. Hartrick 


IX. A Landscape. By Alfred Thorntoffl ^ 





Six Drawings. 
By Aubrey Beardsiey 

Three Pictures. By P. Wilson Steer 

Portrait of Henry James. By John S. 
Sargent, A.R.A, 

A Gir! Resting. By Sydney Adamson 


XVI. |. Three Pictures, By Walter Sickert 
XVII. j 

XVIH. An Idyll. By W. Brown MacDougal 


Two Drawings. By E. J. Sullivan 

A Reminiscence of "The Transgressor." 
By Frai.cis Forster 

XXII. A Study. By Bcrnhard Sickert 

XX UL For the Backs of Playing Cds. 
By Ayiner Vallance